Skip to main content

Full text of "Rape of the Mind - the Psychology of Thought Control - A.M. Meerloo MD"

See other formats

The Rape of the Mind 

A. M. Meerloo, M.D. 

The Rape of the Mind explores the Psychology of Thought Control, Menticide, and 
Brainwashing. Published in 1956 and written by Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., Instructor in 
Psychiatry, Columbia University Lecturer in Social Psychology, New School for Social 
Research, Former Chief, Psychological Department, Netherlands Forces. 



The Techniques of Individual Submission 6 


The Enforced Confession 7 

Mental Coercion and Enemy Occupation 10 

Witchcraft and Torture 1 2 

The Refinement of the Rack 14 

Menticide in Korea 17 


The Salivating Dog 21 

The Conditioning of Man 24 

Isolation and Other Factors in Conditioning 26 

Mass Conditioning Through Speech 28 

Political Conditioning 30 

The Urge to be Conditioned 33 


The Search for Ecstasy Through Drugs 36 

Hypnotism and Mental Coercion 38 

Needling for the Truth 41 

The Lie-Detector 44 

The Therapist as an Instrument of Coercion 45 



The Upset Philosopher 47 

The Barbed-Wire Disease 49 

The Moment of Sudden Surrender 50 

The Need to Collapse 51 

The Need for Companionship 53 

Blackmailing Through Overburdening Guilt Feelings 55 

The Law of Survival versus the Law of Loyalty 58 

The Mysterious Masochistic Pact 61 
A Survey of Psychological Processes involved in 

Brainwashing and Menticide 63 


The Techniques of Mass Submission 65 


The Public-Opinion Engineers 67 

Psychological Warfare as a Weapon of Terror 69 

The Indoctrination Barrage 71 

The Enigma of Co-existence 72 


The Robotization of Man 74 

Cultural Predilection for Totalitarianism 76 

The Totalitarian Leader 79 

The Final Surrender of the Robot Man 82 

The Common Retreat from Reality 84 

The Retreat to Automatization 86 

The Womb State 88 


The Strategy of Terror 92 

The Purging Rituals 94 

Wild Accusation and Black Magic 96 

Spy Mania 98 

The Strategy of Criminalization 99 

Verbocracy and Semantic Fog - Talking People into Submission 1 01 

Logocide 103 

Labelomania 104 

The Apostatic Crime in Totalitaria 1 05 


The Downfall of Justice 1 07 

The Demagogue as Prosecutor and Hypnotist 1 09 

The Trial as an Instrument of Intimidation 1 1 3 

The Congressional Investigation 114 

The Witness and his Subjective Testimony 1 1 6 

The Right to be Silent 118 

Mental Blackmail 119 

The Judge and the Jury 1 22 

Televised Interrogation 124 

The Quest for Detachment 1 25 


The Fear of Living 1 26 

Our Fantasies about Danger 129 

Paradoxical Fear 1 30 

Regression 131 

Camouflage and Disguise 132 

Explosive Panics 134 

The Body Takes Over 1 35 


Unobtrusive Coercion 137 


How some Totalitarians may Develop 1 38 

The Moulding Nursery 140 

The Father cuts the Cord 1 45 


The Affirmation of my own Errors 149 

Stages of Thinking and Delusion 1 52 

The Loss of Verifiable Reality 1 54 

Mass Delusion 156 

The Danger of Mental Contagion 1 59 

The Explanation of Delusion 161 

The Liberation from Magic Thinking 1 62 


The Creeping Coercion by Technology 1 65 

The Paradox of Technology 1 69 


The Administrative Mind 1 73 

The Ailments of those in Public Office 1 76 

The Conference of Unconscious Minds 178 

The Bureaucratic Mind 180 




The Involuntary Traitor 1 84 

The Concept of Treason 1 87 

The Traitor who Consciously takes Option for the Other side 1 89 

Our Treacherous Intellect 1 92 

Self- Betrayal 193 

The Development of Loyalty 1 96 

In Praise of Nonconformity 197 

The Loyalty Compulsion 1 98 


In Search of Defences 203 



Indoctrination Against Indoctrination? 207 



The Role of Education 209 

Discipline and Morale 213 

Discipline and Brainwashing 214 

The Breaking Point and our Capacity for Frustration 21 7 



The Myth of Courage 221 

The Morale-Boosting Idea 224 

The New Courage 229 


The Democratizing Action of Psychology 232 

The Battle on Two Fronts 235 

The Paradox of Freedom 238 

The Future Age of Psychology 240 



The first part of this book is devoted to various techniques used to make man a 
meek conformist. In addition to actual political occurrences, attention is called to 
some ideas born in the laboratory and to the drug techniques that facilitate 
brainwashing. The last chapter deals with the subtle psychological mechanisms of 
mental submission. 


A fantastic thing is happening in our world. Today a man is no longer punished only 
for the crimes he has in fact committed. Now he may be compelled to confess to 
crimes that have been conjured up by his judges, who use his confession for political 
purposes. It is not enough for us to damn as evil those who sit in judgment. We must 
understand what impels the false admission of guilt; we must take another look at 
the human mind in all its frailty and vulnerability. 

The Enforced Confession 

During the Korean War, an officer of the United States Marine Corps, Colonel Frank 
H. Schwable, was taken prisoner by the Chinese Communists. After months of 
intense psychological pressure and physical degradation, he signed a well 
documented "confession" that the United States was carrying on bacteriological 
warfare against the enemy. The confession named names, cited missions, described 
meetings and strategy conferences. This was a tremendously valuable propaganda 
tool for the totalitarians. They cabled the news all over the world: "The United States 
of America is fighting the peace loving people of China by dropping bombs loaded 
with disease spreading bacteria, in violation of international law." 

After his repatriation, Colonel Schwable issued a sworn statement repudiating his 
confession, and describing his long months of imprisonment. Later, he was brought 
before a military court of inquiry. He testified in his own defense before that court: "I 
was never convinced in my own mind that we in the First Marine Air Wing had used 
bug warfare. I knew we hadn't, but the rest of it was real to me the conferences, the 
planes, and how they would go about their missions." 

"The words were mine," the Colonel continued, "but the thoughts were theirs. That is 
the hardest thing I have to explain: how a man can sit down and write something he 
knows is false, and yet, to sense it, to feel it, to make it seem real." 

This is the way Dr. Charles W. Mayo, a leading American physician and government 
representative, explained brainwashing in an official statement before the United 
Nations: "...the tortures used. ..although they include many brutal physical injuries, 
are not like the medieval torture of the rack and the thumb screw. They are subtler, 
more prolonged, and intended to be more terrible in their effect. They are calculated 
to disintegrate the mind of an intelligent victim, to distort his sense of values, to a 
point where he will not simply cry out 'I did it!' but will become a seemingly willing 
accomplice to the complete disintegration of his integrity and the production of an 
elaborate fiction." 

The Schwable case is but one example of a defenceless prisoner being compelled to 
tell a big lie. If we are to survive as free men, we must face up to this problem of 
politically inspired mental coercion, with all its ramifications. 

It is more than twenty years (in 1956) since psychologists first began to suspect that 
the human mind can easily fall prey to dictatorial powers. In 1933, the German 
Reichstag building was burned to the ground. The Nazis arrested a Dutchman, 
Marinus Van der Lubbe, and accused him of the crime. Van der Lubbe was known 
by Dutch psychiatrists to be mentally unstable. He had been a patient in a mental 
institution in Holland. And his weakness and lack of mental balance became 
apparent to the world when he appeared before the court. Wherever news of the trial 
reached, men wondered: "Can that foolish little fellow be a heroic revolutionary, a 
man who is willing to sacrifice his life to an ideal?" 

During the court sessions Van der Lubbe was evasive, dull, and apathetic. Yet the 
reports of the Dutch psychiatrists described him as a gay, alert, unstable character, a 
man whose moods changed rapidly, who liked to vagabond around, and who had all 
kinds of fantasies about changing the world. 

On the forty second day of the trial, Van der Lubbe's behaviour changed 
dramatically. His apathy disappeared. It became apparent that he had been quite 
aware of everything that had gone on during the previous sessions. He criticized the 
slow course of the procedure. He demanded punishment either by imprisonment or 
death. He spoke about his "inner voices." He insisted that he had his moods in 
check. Then he fell back into apathy. We now recognize these symptoms as a 
combination of behaviour forms which we can call a confession syndrome. In 1933 
this type of behaviour was unknown to psychiatrists. Unfortunately, it is very familiar 
today and is frequently met in cases of extreme mental coercion. 

Van der Lubbe was subsequently convicted and executed. When the trial was over, 
the world began to realize that he had merely been a scapegoat. The Nazis 
themselves had burned down the Reichstag building and had staged the crime and 
the trial so that they could take over Germany. Still later we realized that Van der 
Lubbe was the victim of a diabolically clever misuse of medical knowledge and 
psychological technique, through which he had been transformed into a useful, 
passive, meek automaton, who replied merely yes or no to his interrogators during 
most of the court sessions. In a few moments he threatened to jump out of his 
enforced role. Even at that time there were rumours that the man had been drugged 
into submission, though we never became sure of that. 

(NOTE: The psychiatric report about the case of Van der Lubbe is published by 
Bonhoeffer and Zutt. Though they were unfamiliar with the "menticide syndrome," 
and not briefed by their political fuehrers, they give a good description about the 
pathologic, apathetic behaviour, and his tremendous change of moods. They deny 
the use of drugs.) 

Between 1936 and 1938 the world became more conscious of the very real danger 
of systematized mental coercion in the field of politics. This was the period of the well 
remembered Moscow purge trials. It was almost impossible to believe that dedicated 
old Bolsheviks, who had given their lives to a revolutionary movement, had suddenly 
turned into dastardly traitors. When, one after another, everyone of the accused 
confessed and beat his breast, the general reaction was that this was a great show 
of deception, intended only as a propaganda move for the non Communist world. 

Then it became apparent that a much worse tragedy was being enacted. The men 
on trial had once been human beings. Now they were being systematically changed 
into puppets. Their puppeteers called the tune and manipulated their actions. When, 
from time to time, news came through showing how hard, rigid revolutionaries could 
be changed into meek, self accusing sheep, all over the world the last remnants of 
the belief in the free community presumably being built in Soviet Russia began to 

In recent years, the spectacle of confession to uncommitted crimes has become 
more and more common. The list ranges from Communist through non Communist 
to anti Communist, and includes men of such different types as the Czech Bolshevik 
Rudolf Slansky and the Hungarian cardinal, Joseph Mindszenty. 

Mental Coercion and Enemy Occupation 

Those of us who lived in the Nazi occupied countries during the Second World War 
learned to understand only too well how people could be forced into false 
confessions, and into betrayals of those they loved. I myself was born in the 
Netherlands and lived there until the Nazi occupation forced me to flee. In the early 
days of the occupation, when we heard the first eyewitness descriptions of what 
happened during Nazi interrogations of captured resistance workers, we were 
frightened and alarmed. 

The first aim of the Gestapo was to force prisoners under torture to betray their 
friends and to report new victims for further torture. The Brown Shirts demanded 
names and more names, not bothering to ascertain whether or not they were given 
falsely under the stress of terror. I remember very clearly one meeting held by a 
small group of resisters to discuss the growing fear and insecurity. Everybody at that 
meeting could expect to be mentioned and picked up by the Gestapo at some time. 
Should we be able to stand the Nazi treatment, or would we also be forced to 
become informers? This question was being asked by anti Nazis in all the occupied 

During the second year of the occupation we realized that it was better not to be in 
touch with one another. More than two contacts were unsafe. We tried to find 
medical and psychiatric preventives to harden us against the Nazi torture we 
expected. As a matter of fact, I myself conducted some experiments to determine 
whether or not narcotics would harden us against pain. However, the results were 
paradoxical. Narcotics can create pain insensitivity, but their dulling action at the 
same time makes people more vulnerable to mental pressure. Even at that time we 
knew, as did the Nazis themselves, that it was not the direct physical pain that broke 
people, but the continuous humiliation and mental torture. One of my patients, who 
was subjected to such an interrogation, managed to remain silent. He refused to 
answer a single question, and finally the Nazis dismissed him. But he never 
recovered from this terrifying experience. He hardly spoken even when he returned 
home. He simply sat bitter, full of indignation and in a few weeks he died. It was not 
his physical wounds that had killed him; it was the combination of fear and wounded 

We held many discussions about ways of strengthening our captured underground 
workers or preventing them from final self betrayal. Should some of our people be 
given suicide capsules? That could only be a last resort. Narcotics like morphine give 
only a temporary anaesthesia and relief; moreover, the enemy would certainly find 
the capsules and take them away. 

We had heard about German attempts to give cocaine and amphetamine to their air 
pilots for use in combat exhaustion, but neither medicament was reliable. Those 
drugs might revive the body by making it less sensitive to pain, but at the same time 
they dulled the mind. If captured members of the underground were to take them, as 
experiments had shown, their bodies might not feel the effects of physical torture, but 
their hazy minds might turn them into easier dupes of the Nazis. 


We also tried systematic exercises in mental relaxation and auto hypnosis 
(comparable with Yogi exercises) in order to make the body more insensitive to 
hunger and pain. If an individual's attention is fixed on the development of conscious 
awareness of automatic body functions, such as breathing, the alert functioning of 
the brain cortex can be reduced, and awareness of pain will diminish. This state of 
pain insensitivity can sometimes be achieved through autohypnotic exercises. But 
very few of our people were able to bring themselves into such anaesthesia. 

Finally we evolved this simple psychological trick: when you can no longer outwit the 
enemy or resist talking, the best thing to do is to talk too much. This was the idea: 
keep yourself sullen and act the fool; play the coward and confess more than there is 
to confess. Later we were able to verify that this method was successful in several 
cases. Scatterbrained simpletons confused the enemy much more than silent heroes 
whose stamina was finally undermined in spite of everything. 

I had to flee Holland after a policeman warned me that my name had been 
mentioned in an interrogation. I had twice been questioned by the Nazis on minor 
matters and without bodily torture. When they later caught up with me in Belgium, 
probably as the result of a betrayal, I had to undergo a long initial examination in 
which I was beaten, fortunately not too seriously. The interview had started 
pleasantly enough. Apparently, the Nazi officer in charge thought he would be able 
to get information out of me through friendly methods. Indeed, we even had a 
discussion (since I am a psychiatrist) about the methods used in interrogation. But 
the officer's mood changed, and he behaved with all the sadistic characteristics we 
had come to expect from his type. Happily, I managed to escape from Belgium that 
very night before a more systematic and more torturous investigation could begin. 
Arriving at the London headquarters after an adventurous trip through France and 
Spain, I became Chief of the Psychological Department of the Netherlands Forces in 
England. In this official position I was able to gather data on what was happening to 
the millions of victims of Nazi terror and torture. Later on I questioned and treated 
several escapees from internment and concentration camps. These people had 
become real experts in suffering. The variety of human reactions under those 
infernal circumstances taught us an ugly truth: the spirit of most men can be broken; 
men can be reduced to the level of animal behaviour. Both torturer and victim finally 
lose all human dignity. 

My government gave me the power to investigate a group of traitors and I also 
interrogated imprisoned Nazis. When I reviewed all these wartime experiences, all 
the confusion about courage and cowardice, treason, morale, and mental fortitude, I 
must confess that my eyes were only really opened after a study of the Nuremberg 
trials of the Nazi leaders. These trials gave us the real story of the systematic 
coercive methods used by the Nazis. At about the same time we began to learn 
more about the perverted psychological strategy Russia and her satellites were 


Witchcraft and Torture 

The specific techniques used in the modern world to break man's mind and will to 
extort confessions for political propaganda purposes are relatively new (in 1956) and 
highly refined. Yet enforced confession itself is nothing new. From time immemorial 
tyrants and dictators have needed these "voluntary" confessions to justify their own 
evil deeds. The knowledge that the human mind can be influenced, tamed, and 
broken down into servility is far older than the modern dictatorial concept of enforced 

The primitive shaman used awe inspiring ritual to bring his victim into such a state of 
fright hypnosis that he yielded to all suggestions. The native on whom a spell of 
doom has been cast by the medicine man may become so hypnotized by his own 
fear that he simply sits down, accepts his fate, and dies (Malinowski). 

Throughout history men have had an intuitive understanding that the mind can be 
manipulated. Elaborate strategies have been worked out to achieve this end. 
Ecstasy rituals, frightening masks, loud noises, eerie chants all have been used to 
compel the crowd to accept the beliefs of their leaders. Even if an ordinary man at 
first resists a cruel shaman or medicine man, the hypnotizing ritual gradually breaks 
his will. 

More painful methods are not new either. When we study the old reports of the 
Inquisition, or of the many witch trials, both in Europe and America, we learn a great 
deal about these methods. The floating test is one example. Those accused of 
witchcraft were thrown into the river, their feet and hands tied together. If the body 
did not sink, the victim was immediately pulled out of the water and burned at the 
stake. The fact that he did not sink was proof positive of his guilt. If, on the other 
hand, the accused obeyed the law of gravity and sank to the bottom of the river, the 
drowned body was ceremoniously removed from the river and proclaimed innocent. 

Not much choice was left to the victim! 

Man has been tremendously inventive in developing means for inflicting suffering on 
his fellow man. With refined passion he has devised techniques which provoke the 
most exquisite pain in the most vulnerable parts of the human body. The rack and 
the thumbscrew are age old instruments and have been used not only by primitive 
judges but also by so called civilized dictators and tyrants. 

In order better to understand modern mental torture, we must constantly keep in 
mind the fact that from the earliest days bodily anguish and the rack were never 
meant merely to inflict pain on the victim. They may not have expressed their 
understanding in sophisticated terms, but the medieval judge and hangman were 
nevertheless aware that there is a peculiar spiritual relationship and mental interplay 
between the victim and the rest of the community. 


Much painful torture and hanging had to be done as public demonstrations. After 
suffering the most intense pain, the witch would not only confess to shocking sexual 
debaucheries with the devil, but would herself gradually come to believe the stories 
she had invented and would die convinced of her guilt. The whole ritual of 
interrogation and torture finally compelled her to yield to the fantasies of her judges 
and accusers. In the end she even yearned for death. She wanted to be burned at 
the stake in order to exorcise the devil and expiate her sins. 

These same judges and hangman realized, too, that their witch trials were intended 
not only to torture the witches, but even more to torture the bystanders, who, albeit 
unconsciously, identified themselves with the victims. This is, of course, one of the 
reasons burnings and hangings were held in public and became the occasion for 
great pageants. Terror thus became widespread, and many judges spoke 
euphemistically of the preventive action of such torture. Psychologically, we can see 
this entire device as a blackmailing of human sympathy and the general tendency to 
identify with others. 

As far back as 1563 the courageous Dutch physician Johannes Wier published his 
masterwork, De Praestigiis Daemonum (On the Delusions About Demons) in which 
he states that the collective and voluntary self accusation of older women through 
which they exposed themselves to torture and death by their inquisitors was in itself 
an act inspired by the devil, a trick of demons, whose aim it was to doom not only the 
innocent women but also their reckless judges. Wier was the first medical man to 
introduce what became the psychiatric concept of DELUSION and mental blindness. 
Wherever his book had influence, the persecution of witches ceased, in some 
countries more than one hundred and fifty years before it was finally brought to an 
end throughout the civilized world. His work and his insights became one of the main 
instruments for fighting the witch delusion and physical torture (Baschwitz). Wier 
realized even then that witches were scapegoats for the inner confusion and 
desperation of their judges and of the "Zeitgeist" in general. 


The Refinement of the Rack 

All knowledge can be used either for good or for evil, and psychology is not immune 
to this general law. Psychology has delivered up to man new means of torture and 
intrusion into the mind. We must be more and more aware of what these methods 
and techniques are if we are successfully to fight them. They can often be more 
painful and mentally more paralyzing than the rack. Strong personalities can tolerate 
physical agony; often it serves to increase stubborn resistance. No matter what the 
constitution of the victim, physical torture finally leads to a protective loss of 
consciousness. But to withstand mental torture leading to creeping mental 
breakdown demands an even stronger personality. 

What we call brainwashing (a word derived from the Chinese "Hsi Nao") is an 
elaborate ritual of systematic indoctrination, conversion, and self accusation used to 
change non Communists into submissive followers of the party (Hunter). "Menticide" 
is a word coined by me and derived from "mens", the mind, and "caedere", to kill. 
(NOTE: Here I followed the etymology used by the United Nations to form the word 
"genocide," meaning the systematic destruction of racial groups.) 

Both words indicate the same perverted refinement of the rack, putting it on what 
appears to be a more acceptable level. But it is a thousand times worse and a 
thousand times more useful to the inquisitor. 

Menticide is an old crime against the human mind and spirit but systematized anew. 
It is an organized system of psychological intervention and judicial perversion 
through which a powerful dictator can imprint his own opportunistic thoughts upon 
the minds of those he plans to use and destroy. The terrorized victims finally find 
themselves compelled to express complete conformity to the tyrant's wishes. 
Through court procedures, at which the victim mechanically reels off an inner record 
which has been prepared by his inquisitors during a preceding period, public opinion 
is lulled and thrown off guard. "A real traitor has been punished," people think. "The 
man has confessed!" His confession can be used for propaganda, for the cold war, 
to instil fear and terror, to accuse the enemy falsely, or to exercise a constant mental 
pressure upon others. 

One important result of this procedure is the great confusion it creates in the mind of 
every observer, friend or foe. In the end no one knows how to distinguish truth from 
falsehood. The totalitarian potentate, in order to break down the minds of men, first 
needs widespread mental chaos and verbal confusion, because both paralyze his 
opposition and cause the morale of the enemy to deteriorate unless his adversaries 
are aware of the dictator's real aim. From then on he can start to build up his system 
of conformity. 

In both the Mindszenty and the Schwable cases, we have documented reports of the 
techniques of menticide as it has been used to break the minds and wills of 
courageous men. 


Let us look first at the case of Cardinal Mindszenty, accused of misleading the 
Hungarian people and collaboration with the enemies, the United States. In his 
expose' on Cardinal Mindszenty's imprisonment, Stephen K. Swift graphically 
describes three typical phases in the psychological "processing" of political 
prisoners. The first phase is directed toward extorting confession. The victim is 
bombarded with questions day and night. He is inadequately and irregularly fed. He 
is allowed almost no rest and remains in the interrogation chamber for hours on end 
while his inquisitors take turns with him. Hungry, exhausted, his eyes blurred and 
aching under unshaded lamps, the prisoner becomes little more than a hounded 

"...when the Cardinal had been standing for sixty six hours [Swift reports], he closed 
his eyes and remained silent. He did not even reply to questions with denials. The 
colonel in charge of the shift tapped the Cardinal's shoulder and asked why he did 
not respond. The Cardinal answered: 'End it all. Kill me! I am ready to die!' He was 
told that no harm would come to him; that he could end it all simply by answering 
certain questions. 

"...By Saturday forenoon he could hardly be recognized. He asked for another drink 
and this time it was refused. His feet and legs had swollen to such proportions that 
they caused him intense pain; he fell down several times." 

To the horrors the accused victim suffers from without must be added the horrors 
from within. He is pursued by the unsteadiness of his own mind, which cannot 
always produce the same answer to a repeated question. As a human being with a 
conscience he is pursued by possible hidden guilt feelings, however pious he may 
have been that undermine his rational awareness of innocence. The panic of the 
"brainwashee" is the total confusion he suffers about all concepts. His evaluations 
and norms are undermined. He cannot believe in anything objective any more except 
in the dictated and indoctrinated logic of those who are more powerful than he. The 
enemy knows that, far below the surface, human life is built up of inner 
contradictions. He uses this knowledge to defeat and confuse the brainwashee. The 
continual shift of interrogators makes it ever more impossible to believe in 
consecutive thinking. Hardly has the victim adjusted himself to one inquisitor when 
he has to change his focus of alertness to another one. 

Yet, this inner clash of norms and concepts, this inner contradiction of ideologies and 
beliefs is part of the philosophical sickness of our time! 

As a social being the Cardinal is pursued by the need for good human relationships 
and companionship. The constantly reiterated suggestion of his guilt urges him 
toward confession. As a suffering individual he is blackmailed by an inner need to be 
left alone and undisturbed, if only for a few minutes. From within and without he is 
inexorably driven toward signing the confession prepared by his persecutors. Why 
should he resist any longer. 


There are no visible witnesses to his heroism. He cannot prove his moral courage 
and rectitude after his death. The core of the strategy of menticide is the taking away 
of all hope, all anticipation, all belief in a future. It destroys the very elements which 
keep the mind alive. The victim is utterly alone. 

(NOTE: This continual attack on human conscience and guilt by unconscious self 
accusations is brilliantly depicted by Franz Kafka in The Trial. In this novel the victim 
never knows of what he is accused but his inner guilt leads him to conviction. Kafka 
anticipated the age of blackmailing into confession. His novel was written before the 
1930s. The same theme has been treated from a psychological point of view by 
Theodor Reik in his Confession, Compulsion and the Need for Punishment.) 

If the prisoner's mind proves too resistant, narcotics are given to confuse it: 
mescaline, marijuana, morphine, barbiturates, alcohol. If his body collapses before 
his mind capitulates, he receives stimulants: benzedrine, caffeine, coramine, all of 
which help to preserve his consciousness until he confesses. Many of the narcotics 
and stimuli which ultimately help to induce mental dependency and enforced 
confusion can also create an amnesia, often a complete forgetting of the torture 
itself. The torture techniques achieve the desired effect, but the victim forgets what 
has actually happened during the interrogation. The clinicians who do therapeutic 
work with amphetamine derivatives, which when injected into the blood stream help 
patients to remember long forgotten experiences, are familiar with the drug's ability 
to bring soothing forgetfulness of the period during which the patient was drugged 
and questioned. 

Next the victim is trained to accept his own confession, much as an animal is trained 
to perform tricks. False admissions are reread, repeated, hammered into his brain. 
He is forced to reproduce in his memory again and again the fantasized offenses, 
fictitious details which ultimately convince him of his criminality. In the first stage he 
is forced into mental submissiveness by others. In the second stage he has entered 
a state of autohypnosis, convincing himself of fabricated crimes. According to Swift: 
"The questions during the interrogation now dealt with details of the Cardinal's 
'confession.' First his own statements were read to him; then statements of other 
prisoners accused of complicity with him; then elaborations of those statements. 
Sometimes the Cardinal was morose, sometimes greatly disturbed and excited. But 
he answered all questions willingly, repeated all sentences once, twice, or even 
three times when he was told to do so." (Lassio) 

In the third and final phase of interrogation and menticide the accused, now 
completely conditioned and accepting his own imposed guilt, is trained to bear false 
witness against himself and others. He doesn't have to convince himself any more 
through autohypnosis; he only speaks "his master's voice." He is prepared for trial, 
softened completely; he becomes remorseful and willing to be sentenced. He is a 
baby in the hands of his inquisitors, fed as a baby and soothed by words as a baby. 

(NOTE: A more extended survey of the different psychological stages in menticide 
and brainwashing will be given at the end of Chapter Four Why Do They Yield - The 
Psychodynamics of False Confession.) 


Menticide in Korea 

Now let us take a look at the Schwable case. In its general outline it is similar to the 
Mindszenty story; it differs only in details. As an officer of the United States Marine 
Corps, fighting with the United Nations in Korea, he is taken prisoner by the enemy. 
The colonel expects to be protected by international law and by the regulations 
regarding officer prisoners of war, which have been accepted by all countries. 
However, it slowly dawns on him that he is being subjected to a kind of treatment 
very different from what he expected. The enemy looks on him not as a prisoner of 
war, but as a victim who can be used for propaganda purposes. 

He is subjected to slow but constant pressures devised to break him down mentally. 
Humiliation, rough, inhuman treatment, degradation, intimidation, hunger, exposure 
to extreme cold all have been used to crumble his will and to soften him. They need 
to wangle military secrets out of him and to use him as a tool in their propaganda 
machine. He feels completely alone. He is surrounded by filth and vermin. For hours 
on end he has to stand up and answer the questions his interrogators hurl at him. He 
develops arthritic backache and diarrhoea. He is not allowed to wash or shave. He 
doesn't know what will happen to him next. This treatment goes on for weeks. 

Then the hours of systematic and repetitious interrogation and oppression increase. 
He no longer dares to trust his own memory. There are new teams of investigators 
every day, and each new team points out his increasing errors and mistakes. He 
cannot sleep any more. Daily his interrogators tell him they have plenty of time, and 
he realizes that in this respect at least they are telling the truth. He beings to doubt 
whether he can resist their seductive propositions. If he will just unburden himself of 
his guilt, they tell him, he will be better treated. 

The inquisitor is treacherously kind and knows exactly what he wants. He wants the 
victim captured by the influence of a slowly induced hypnosis. He wants a well 
documented confession that the American army used bacteriological warfare, that 
the captive himself took part in such germ warfare. The inquisitor wants this 
confession in writing because it will make a convincing impression and will shock the 
world. China is plagued by hunger and epidemics; such a confession will explain the 
high disease rate and exculpate the Chinese government, whose popularity is at a 
low ebb. So the colonel has to be prepared for a systematic confession, made before 
an international group of Communist experts. Mentally and physically he is 
weakened, and every day the Communist "truths" are imprinted on his mind. 

The colonel has in fact become hypnotized; he is now able to reproduce for his 
jailers bits and pieces of the confession they want from him. It is a well known 
scientific fact that the passive memory often remembers facts learned under 
hypnosis better than those learned in a state of alert consciousness. He is even able 
to write some of it down. Eventually, all the little pieces fit, like a jigsaw puzzle, into a 
complete, well organized whole; they form part of a document which was in fact 
prepared beforehand by his captors. This document is placed in the colonel's hands, 
and he is even allowed to make some minor changes in the phrasing before he signs 


By now, the colonel has been completely broken. He has given in. All sense of reality 
is gone; identification with the enemy is complete. For weeks after signing the 
confession he is in a state of depression. His only wish is to sleep, to have rest from 
it all. 

A man will often try to hold out beyond the limits of his endurance because he 
continues to believe that his tormentors have some basic morality, that they will 
finally realize the enormity of their crimes and will leave him alone. This is a delusion. 
The only way to strengthen one's defences against an organized attack on the mind 
and will is to understand better what the enemy is trying to do and to outwit him. Of 
course, one can vow to hold out until death, but even the relief of death is in the 
hands of the inquisitor. People can be brought to the threshold of death and then be 
stimulated into life again so that the torments can be renewed. Attempts at suicide 
are foreseen and can be forestalled. 

In my opinion hardly anyone can resist such treatment. It all depends on the ego 
strength of the person and the exhaustive technique of the inquisitor. Each man has 
his own limit of endurance, but that this limit can nearly always be reached and even 
surpassed is supported by clinical evidence. Nobody can predict for himself how he 
will handle a situation when he is called to the test. The official United States report 
on brainwashing (See the "New York Times", August 18, 1955) admits that "virtually 
all American P.O.W.s collaborated at one time or another in one degree or another, 
lost their identity as Americans. ..thousands lost their will to live," and so forth. The 
British report (See the "New York Times", February 27, 1955) gives a statistical 
survey about the abuse of the P.O.W.s. According to this report one third of the 
soldiers absorbed enough indoctrination to be classified as Communist 

This same report describes in a more extended way some of the sadistic means 
used by the enemy: 

"If a prisoner accepted Communist doctrines, his life became easier, according to the 
men's stories. But if a prisoner resisted Communist doctrines, the Chinese 
considered him a criminal and reactionary deserving of any brutalities, the tortures 
applied to the 'reactionaries' included: 

"Making a prisoner stand at attention or sit with legs outstretched in complete silence 
from 4:30 a.m. to 1 1 :00 p.m. and constantly waking him during the few hours allowed 
for sleep. 

"Keeping prisoners in solitary confinement in boxes about five by three by two feet. A 
private of the Gloucester Regiment spent more than six months in one of these. 

"Withholding liquids for days 'to help self reflection'. 

"Binding a prisoner with a rope passed over a beam, one end fixed as a hangman's 
noose round his neck and the other end tied to his ankles. He was then told that if he 
slipped or bent his knees he would be committing suicide. 


"Forcing a prisoner to kneel on jagged rocks and hold a large rock over his head with 
arms extended. It took a man who had undergone this treatment days to recover the 
ability to walk. 

"At one camp North Korean jailers pushed a pencil like piece of wood or metal 
through a hole in the cell door and made the prisoner hold the inner end in his teeth. 
Without warning a sentry would knock the outer end sidewise, breaking the man's 
teeth or splitting the sides of his mouth. Sometimes the rod was rammed inward 
against the back of the mouth or down the throat. 

"Prisoners were marched barefooted to the frozen Yalu River, water was poured 
over their feet and they were kept for hours with their feet frozen to the ice to 'reflect' 
on their 'crimes.'" 

Time, fear, and continual pressure are known to create a menticidal hypnosis. The 
conscious part of the personality no longer takes part in the automatic confessions. 
The brainwashee lives in a trance, repeating the record grooved into him and by 
somebody else. Fortunately, this, too, is known: as soon as the victim returns to 
normal circumstances, the panicky and hypnotic spell evaporates, and he again 
awakens into reality. 

This is what happened to Colonel Schwable. True, he confessed to crimes he did not 
commit, but he repudiated his confession as soon as he was returned to a familiar 

When, during the military inquiry into the Schwable case, I was called upon to testify 
as an expert on menticide, I told the court of my deep conviction that nearly anybody 
subjected to the treatment meted out to Colonel Schwable could be forced to write 
and sign a similar confession. 

"Anyone in this room, for instance?" the colonel's attorney asked me, looking in turn 
at each of the officers sitting in judgment on this new and difficult case. 

And in good conscience I could reply, firmly: "Anyone in this room." 

It is now technically possible to bring the human mind into a condition of 
enslavement and submission. The Schwable case and the cases of other prisoners 
of war are tragic examples of this, made even more tragic by our lack of 
understanding of the limits of heroism. We are just beginning to understand what 
these limits are, and how they are used, both politically and psychologically, by the 
totalitarians. We have long since come to recognize the breast beating confession 
and the public recantation as propaganda tricks; now we are beginning to see ever 
more clearly how the totalitarians use menticide: deliberately, openly, unashamedly, 
as part of their official policy, as a means of consolidating and maintaining their 
power, though, of course, they give a different explanation to the whole procedure it's 
all confessions of real and treacherous crimes. 


This brutal totalitarian technique has at least one virtue, however. It is obvious and 
unmistakable, and we are learning to be on our guard against it, but as we shall see 
later, there are other subtler forms of mental intervention. They can be just as 
dangerous as the direct assault, precisely because they are more subtle and hence 
more difficult to detect. Often we are not aware of their action at all. They influence 
the mind so slowly and indirectly that we may not even realize what they have done 
to us. 

Like totalitarian menticide, some of these less obvious forms of mental manipulation 
are political in purpose. Others are not. Even if they differ in intent, they can have the 
same consequences. 

These subtle menticidal forces operate both within the mind and outside it. They 
have been strengthened in their effect by the growth in complexity of our civilization. 
The modern means of mass communication bring the entire world daily into each 
man's home; the techniques of propaganda and salesmanship have been refined 
and systematized; there is scarcely any hiding place from the constant visual and 
verbal assault on the mind. The pressures of daily life impel more and more people 
to seek an easy escape from responsibility and maturity. Indeed, it is difficult to 
withstand these pressures; to many the offer of a political panacea is very tempting, 
to others the offer of escape through alcohol, drugs, or other artificial pleasures is 

Free men in a free society must learn not only to recognize this stealthy attack on 
mental integrity and fight it, but must learn also what there is in side man's mind that 
makes him vulnerable to this attack, what it is that makes him, in many cases, 
actually long for a way out of the responsibilities that republican democracy and 
maturity place on him. 



Before asking ourselves what the deeper mental mechanisms are of brainwashing, 
false confession, and conversion into a collaborator, let us try to see things from the 
standpoint of the totalitarian potentates. What is their aim? What terms do they use 
to describe the behaviour of their prisoners? What do they want from the Schwables 
and the Midszentys? 

The totalitarian jailers don't speak of hypnosis or suggestion; they even deny the fact 
of imposed confession. They think about human behaviour and human government 
in a much more mechanical way. In order to understand them we have to give more 
attention to their adoration of simplified Pavlovian concepts. 

The Salivating Dog 

In the latter part of the nineteenth century the Russian Nobel price winner Ivan 
Petrovich Pavlov conducted his famous experiments with a bell and a dog. He knew 
that salivation is associated with eating, and that if a dog was hungry, its mouth 
would water each time it saw food. Pavlov took advantage of this useful inborn 
reflex, which serves the digestive process, to develop in his experimental animal the 
salivating response in answer to a stimulus which would not ordinarily create it. Each 
time Pavlov fed the dog, he rang a bell, and at each feeding the dog's mouth 
watered. Then after many repetitions of the combined food bell stimulus, Pavlov rang 
the bell but did not feed the dog. The animal reacted to the bell alone just as it had 
previously reacted to the sight of food its mouth watered. Thus the scientist had 
found out that the dog could be induced to salivate involuntarily in response to an 
arbitrary signal. It had been "conditioned" to respond to the ringing of the bell as if 
that sound were the smell and taste of food. 

From this and other experiments, Pavlov developed his theory of the conditioned 
reflex, which explains learning and training as the building up of a mosaic of 
conditioned reflexes, each one based on the establishment of an association 
between different stimuli. The greater the number of learned complex responses also 
called patterns the greater the number of conditioned reflexes developed. Because 
man, of all the animals, has the greatest capacity for learning, he is the animal with 
the greatest capacity for such complicated conditioning. 

Pavlov's experiments were of great value in the study of animal and human 
behaviour, and in the study of the development of neurotic symptoms. However, this 
knowledge of some of the mechanisms of the human mind can be used as we have 
seen already, like any other knowledge, either for good or for evil. And unfortunately, 
the totalitarians have used their knowledge of how the mind works for their own 


They have applied some of the Pavlovian findings, in a subtle and complicated way 
and sometimes in a grotesque way, to try to produce the reflex of mental and political 
conditioning and of submission in the human guinea pigs under their control. 

Even though the Nazis employed these methods before the Second World War, they 
can be said to have reached their full flower in Soviet Russia. Through a continued 
repetition of indoctrination, bell ringing and feeding, the Soviet man is expected to 
become a conditioned reflex machine, reacting according to a prearranged pattern, 
as did the laboratory dogs. At least, such a simplified concept is roaming around in 
the minds of some of the Soviet leaders and scientists (Dobrogaev). 

In accordance with one of Stalin's directives, Moscow maintains a special "Pavlovian 
Front" (Dobrogaev) and a "Scientific Council on Problems of Physiological Theory of 
the Academician I. P. Pavlov" (London). These institutions, part of the Academy of 
Science, are dedicated to the political application of the Pavlovian theory. They are 
under orders to emphasize the purely mechanical aspects of Pavlov's findings. Such 
a theoretical view can reduce all human emotions to a simple, mechanistic system of 
conditioned reflexes. Both organizations are control agencies dealing in research 
problems, and the scientists who work on them explore the ways in which man can 
theoretically be conditioned and trained as animals are. Since Pavlovian theory is 
proclaimed by the obdurate totalitarian theoreticians as the gospel of animal and 
human behaviour, we have to grapple with the facts they adduce to prove their point, 
and with their methods and theoretical explanations. 

What the Pavlovian council tries to achieve is the result of an oversimplification of 
psychology. Their political task is to condition and mould man's mind so that its 
comprehension is confined to a narrow totalitarian concept of the world. It is the idea 
that such a limitation of thinking to Lenin Marxist theoretical thinking must be 
possible for two reasons: first, if one repeats often enough its simplification, and 
second, if one withholds any other form of interpretation of reality. 

This concept is based on the naive belief that one can permanently suppress any 
critical function and verification in human thinking. Yet, through taming and 
conditioning of people, during which period errors and deviations must continually be 
corrected, unwittingly a critical sense is built up. True, at the same time the danger of 
using this critical sense is brought home to the students. They know the dangers of 
any dissent, but even this promotes the development of a secondary and more 
refined critical sense. In the end, human rebellion and dissent cannot be suppressed; 
they await only one breath of freedom in order to awake once more. The idea that 
there exist other ways to truth than those he sees close at hand lives somewhere in 
everybody. One can narrow his pathways of research and expression, but a man's 
belief in adventurous new roads elsewhere is ever present in the back of his mind. 
The inquisitive human mind is never satisfied with a simple recital of facts. As soon 
as it observes a set of data, it jumps into the area of theory and offers explanations, 
but the way a man sees a set of facts, and the way he juggles them to build them 
into a theory is largely determined by his own biases and prejudices. 


Let me be the first to confess that I am affected by my own subjectivities. Even the 
words we use are loaded with implications and suggestions. The word "reflex," for 
example, so important in Pavlovian theory, is a perfect instance of this. It was first 
used by the seventeenth century philosopher Descartes, in whose philosophical 
system a parallel was made between the actions of the human body and those of a 
machine. For example, in the Cartesian view, the automatic reaction of the body to 
certain painful stimuli (e.g., withdrawing the hand after it has come into contact with 
fire) is compared with the automatic physical reflection of light from a mirror. The 
nervous system, according to Descartes, reflects its response just as the mirror 
does. Such a simple explanation of behaviour, and the very words used to describe 
it, immediately denies the whole organism taking part in that response. 

Yet man is not only a mirror, but a thinking mirror. According to the old mechanical 
view, actions are associated only with the part of the body which performs them, and 
they have no relationship whatsoever to the purposeful behaviour of the organism as 
a whole. But man is not a machine composed of independently functioning parts. He 
is a whole. His mind and body interact; he acts on the outside world and the outside 
world acts on him. The innate reflexes, of which this hand withdrawal is one 
example, are part of a whole system of adaptive responses which serve to help the 
individual, as an entity, to adjust to changed circumstances. They can be described 
as the result of an inborn adaptation tendency. The only real difference between the 
innate reflexes and the conditioned reflexes is that the former supposedly have 
developed in the entire race over the millions of years of the evolutionary process, 
while the latter are developed during the life span of the individual as a result of the 
gradual automatization of acquired responses. 

If you analyze any one of the complicated actions you may perform during the 
course of a single day (driving an automobile, for example), you will see that it 
occurs outside your conscious management. And yet, before the process could be 
automatized, the actions, purposefully directed toward the satisfaction of some goal, 
had to be consciously learned and managed. You were not born with the innate 
reflex of jamming on the brake to stop a car quickly in an emergency. You had to 
learn to do it, and in the process of learning and driving, this response became 
automatic. If, after you have learned to drive, you see a child running across the path 
of your car, you put the brake on immediately, by reflex, without thinking. 


The Conditioning of Man 

Pavlov's research on the machinery of the mind taught us how all the animals 
including man learn adjustment to existing limitations through linking the signs and 
signals of life to body reactions. The mind creates a relationship between repeated 
simultaneous occurrences, and the body reacts to the connections the mind forms. 
Thus the bell, rung each time the dog was fed, became a signal to the animal to 
prepare for digestion, and the animal began to salivate. 

Recent experiments conducted by Dr. Gregory Razran of Queens College show how 
men may develop these same kinds of responses. Dr. Razran treated a group of 
twenty college students to a series of free luncheons at which music was played or 
pictures shown. After the final luncheon, these twenty students were brought 
together with another group who had not been luncheon guests. At this meeting, as 
at the luncheons, music was played and pictures shown, and all the students were 
asked to tell what the music and pictures made them think of. The music and the 
pictures generally reminded the first group of something related to eating, but had no 
such associations for the second group. There was obviously a temporary 
connection in the minds of the luncheon guests between the music and the pictures 
on the one hand and eating on the other. 

The Chinese did their mass conditioning in an even simpler way. After having taught 
the prisoners for days to write down all possible nonsense and political lies in an 
atmosphere of utter confusion and stress they were ripe to sign collectively the lie of 
having taken part in germ warfare (Winokur.) 

All conditioned reflexes are involuntary temporary adjustments to pressures which 
create an apparent connection between stimuli which may be in fact totally 
unrelated. For this reason, the conditioned reflex is not necessarily permanently 
imprinted on the individual, but can gradually disappear. If, after the dog's 
conditioned reflex to the bell has been developed, the bell is rung over and over 
again and no food is presented to the animal, the salivating reflex disappears. 
Doubtless Dr. Razran's students will not always think of food when they hear music. 
We could describe the conditioned reflex another way: it is a selected response of 
the mind body unit to a given stimulus. The ways in which the stimulus and the 
response are connected vary considerably they may have been associated in time, 
in place, or by coincidence, or by a common aim and thus they may form a special 
conditioned complex in our mental and physical attitude. Some of these complex 
responses or patterns are more autonomous than others, and will act like the innate 
patterns. Some are flexible and are continually changing. Analysis of some of the 
psychosomatic diseases, for example, shows us how our inner emotional attitudes 
can intensify or even change a conditional response. Stomach ulcers are considered 
an example of such a psychosomatic disease. The mother who puts her child on a 
too rigid feeding schedule may change the child's favourable response to hunger into 
a stubborn reaction against feeding. 


For our purpose we have to be aware that conditioning takes place throughout all our 
lives in the most subtle and in the most obvious ways. We discover that the moulding 
of our personalities may occur in a thousand fold ways through such matters as 
these: the meal training given in early childhood; the harshness or the musical tone 
of the words spoken to us; the sense of haste in our surroundings; the steadiness of 
family habits or the chaos of neurotic parents; the noises of our machines; the 
reservedness of our friends; the discipline of our schools and the competitiveness of 
our clubs. We are even conditioned by such things as the frailty of our toys and the 
cosiness of our houses, the steadiness of traditions or the chaos of a revolution. The 
artist and the engineer, the teacher and the friend, the uncle or aunt they all give 
shape to our behaviour. 


Isolation and Other Factors in Conditioning 

Pavlov made another significant discovery: the conditioned reflex could be 
developed most easily in a quiet laboratory with a minimum of disturbing stimuli. 
Every trainer of animals knows this from his own experience; isolation and the 
patient repetition of stimuli are required to tame wild animals. Pavlov formulated his 
findings into a general rule in which the speed of learning is positively correlated with 
quiet and isolation. The totalitarians have followed this rule. They know that they can 
condition their political victims most quickly if they are kept in isolation. In the 
totalitarian technique of thought control, the same isolation applied to the individual is 
applied also to groups of people. This is the reason the civilian populations of the 
totalitarian countries are not permitted to travel freely and are kept away from mental 
and political contamination. It is the reason, to, for the solitary confinement cell and 
the prison camp. 

Another of Pavlov's findings was that some animals learn more quickly if they were 
rewarded (by affection, by food, by stroking) each time they showed the right 
response, while others learned more quickly when the penalty for not learning was a 
painful stimulus. In human terms, the latter animals could be described as learning in 
order to avoid punishment. These different reactions in animals may perhaps be 
related to an earlier conditioning by the parents, and they find their counterparts 
among human beings. In some people the strategy of reward and flattery is a 
stimulus to learning, while pain evokes all their resistance and rebellion; in others 
retribution and punishment for failure can be a means of training them into the 
desired pattern. Before he can do his job effectively, the brainwasher has to find out 
to which category his victim belongs. There are people more amenable to 
brainwashing than others. Part of the response may be innate or related to earlier 
conditioning to conformity. 

Pavlov also distinguished between the weaker type of involuntary learning, in which 
the learned response was lost as soon as some disturbance occurred, and the 
stronger type, in which training was retained through all kinds of changed conditions. 
As a matter of fact, Pavlov described more types of learning than this, but for our 
purposes it is only important to know that there are some types of people who lose 
their conditioned learning easily, while others, the so called "stronger" types, retain it. 
This, by the way, is another example of how our choice of words reflects our bias. 
The descriptions "strong" and "weak" depend completely on the aim of the 
experimenter. For the totalitarian, the "weak" P.O.W. is the man who stubbornly 
refuses to accept the new conditioning. His "weakness" may be, in fact, a resistance, 
the result of a previous strong conditioning to loyalty to anti totalitarian principles. We 
never know how strongly conditioning and initial learning are impressed on the 
personality. Rigid dogmatic behaviour has its roots in early conditioning and so may 
submissiveness based on ignorance rather than knowledge. 


Pavlov showed, too, how internal and external factors interact in the conditioning 
process. If, for example, a new laboratory assistant was brought in to work with the 
animals, all of their newly acquired patterns could easily be inhibited because of the 
animals' emotional reactions to the newcomer. Pavlov explained this as a disruptive 
reaction caused by the animals' investigatory reflexes, which led them to sniff around 
the stranger. Current psychology tends to interpret it as the result of the changed 
emotional rapport between the animal and its trainers. We can easily expand the 
implications of this more modern view into the field of human relations. It points up 
the fact that there are some persons who can create such immediate rapport with 
others that the latter will soon give up many old habits and ways of life to conform 
with new demands. There are inquisitors and investigators whose personalities so 
deeply affect their victims that the victims speedily yield their secrets and accept 
entirely new ways of thinking. 

We can see the same thing in psychotherapy, where the development of an 
emotional rapport between doctor and patient is the most important factor leading to 
cure. In some cases rapport can be established immediately, in others rapport 
cannot be built up at all, in most cases it develops gradually during the course of the 
therapy. It is not difficult for a psychologist to test a man's "softness" and willingness 
to be conditioned, and as a matter of fact the Pavlovians have developed simple 
questionnaires through which they can easily determine a given individual's 
instability and adaptability to suggestion and brainwashing. 

Pavlov found that all conditioning, no matter how strong it had been, became 
inhibited through boredom or through the repetition of too weak signals. The bell 
could no longer arouse salivation in the experimental dogs if it was repeated too 
often or its tone was too soft. A process of unlearning took place. The result of such 
internal inhibition of conditioning and the loss of conditioned reflex action is sleep. 
The inhibition spreads over the entire activity of the brain cortex; the organism falls 
into a hypnotic state. This explanation of the process of inhibition was one of the first 
acceptable theories of sleep. An interesting psychological question is whether too 
much official conditioning causes boredom and inhibition, and whether that is the 
reason why the Stakhanovite movement in Russia was necessary to counteract the 
loss of productivity of the people. 

We can make a comparison with what happened to our prisoners of war in Korea. 
Under the daily signal of dulling routine questions for every word can act as a 
Pavlovian signal their minds went into a state of inhibition and diminished alertness. 
This made it possible for them to give up temporarily their former democratic 
conditioning and training. When they had unlearned and suppressed the democratic 
way, their inquisitors could start teaching them the totalitarian philosophy. First the 
old patterns have to be broken down in order to build up new conditioned reflexes. 
We can imagine that boredom and repetition arouse the need to give in and to yield 
to the provoking words of the enemy. Later I shall come back to the system of 
negative stimuli used in conditioning for brainwashing. 


Mass Conditioning Through Speech 

According to official Pavlovian psychology, human speech is also a conditioned 
reflex activity. Pavlov distinguished between stimuli of the first order, which condition 
men and animals directly, and stimuli of the second order, with weaker and more 
complicated conditioning qualities. In this so called second signal system, verbal 
cues replace the original physical sound stimuli. Pavlov himself did not give much 
attention to this second signal system. It was especially after Stalin's publication in 
1950 on the significance of linguistics for mass indoctrination (as quoted by 
Dobrogaev) that the Russian psychologists began to do work in this area. In his 
letter, Stalin followed Engel's theory that language is the characteristic human bit of 
adaptive equipment. That tone and sound in speech have a conditioning quality is 
something we can verify from our own experience in listening to or in giving 
commands, or in dealing with our pets. Even the symbolic and semantic meaning of 
words can acquire a conditioning quality. The word "traitor," for example, provokes 
direct feelings and reactions in the minds of those who hear it spoken, even if this 
discriminatory label is being applied dishonestly. 

Through an elaborate study on speech reflexes written by one of the leading Russian 
psychologists, Dobrogaev, we get a fairly good insight into the ways in which speech 
patterns and word signals are used in the service of mass conditioning, by means of 
propaganda and indoctrination. The basic problems for the man tamer are rather 
simple: Can man resist a government bent on conditioning him? What can the 
individual do to protect his mental integrity against the power of a forceful 
collectivity? Is it possible to do away with every vestige of inner resistance? 

Pavlov had already explained that man's relation to the external world, and to his 
fellow men, is dominated by secondary stimuli, the speech symbols. Man learns to 
think in words and in the speech figures given him, and these gradually condition his 
entire outlook on life and on the world. As Dobrogaev says, "Language is the means 
of man's adaptation to his environment." We could rephrase that statement in this 
way: man's need for communication with his fellow men interferes with his relation to 
the outside world, because language and speech itself the verbal tools we use are 
variable and not objective. Dobrogaev continues: "Speech manifestations represent 
conditioned reflex functions of the human brain." In a simpler way we may say: he 
who dictates and formulates the words and phrases we use, he who is master of the 
press and radio, is master of the mind. 

In the Pavlovian strategy, terrorizing force can finally be replaced by a new 
organization of the means of communication. Ready made opinions can be 
distributed day by day through press, radio, and so on, again and again, till they 
reach the nerve cell and implant a fixed pattern of thought in the brain. 
Consequently, guided public opinion is the result, according to Pavlovian 
theoreticians, of good propaganda technique, and the polls a verification of the 
temporary successful action of the Pavlovian machinations on the mind. Yet, the 
polls may only count what people pretend to think and believe, because it is 
dangerous for them to do otherwise. 


Such is the Pavlovian device: repeat mechanically your assumptions and 
suggestions diminish the opportunity of communicating dissent and opposition. This 
is the simple formula for political conditioning of the masses. This is also the actual 
ideal of some of our public relation machines, who thus hope to manipulate the 
public into buying a special soap or voting for a special party. 

The Pavlovian strategy in public relations has people conditioned more and more to 
ask themselves, "What do other people think?" As a result, a common delusion is 
created: people are incited to think what other people think, and thus public opinion 
may mushroom out into a mass prejudice. 

Expressed in psychoanalytic terms, through daily propagandistic noise backed up by 
forceful verbal cues, people can more and more be forced to identify with the 
powerful noisemaker. Big Brother's voice resounds in all the little brothers. 

News from Red China, as reported by neutral Indian journalists (See the "New York 
Times", November 27, 1954) tells us that the Chinese leaders are using this vocal 
conditioning of the public to strengthen their regime. Throughout the country, radios 
and loud speakers are broadcasting the official "truths." The sugary voices take 
possession of people, the cultural tyranny traps their ears with loud speakers, telling 
them what they may and may not do. This microphone regimentation was foreseen 
by the French philosopher La Rochefoucauld, who, in the eighteenth century, said: 
"A man is like a rabbit, you catch him by the ears." 

During the Second World War the Nazis showed that they too were very much aware 
of this conditioning power of the word. I saw their strategy at work in Holland. The 
radio constantly spread political suggestions and propaganda, and people were 
obliged to listen because the simple act of turning off one's radio was in itself 
suspicious. I remember one day during the occupation when I was taking a bicycle 
trip with some friends. We stopped off to rest at a cafe that, we later realized, was a 
true Nazi nest. When the radio, which had been on ever since we arrived, 
announced a speech by Hitler, everyone stood up in awe, and it was a must to take 
in the verbal conditioning by the Fuhrer. My friends and I had to stand up too, and 
were forced to listen to that raucous voice crackling in our ears and to summon all 
our resistance against that long, boring, repetitive attack on our eardrums and minds. 
Throughout the occupation, the Nazis printed tons of propaganda, Big Lies, and 
distortions. They even went so far as to paint their slogans on the stoops of the 
houses and in the streets. Every week newly fabricated stereotypes ogled at us as if 
to convince us of the splendour of the Third Reich. But the Nazis did not know the 
correct Pavlovian strategy. By satisfying their own need to discuss and to vary their 
arguments in order to make them seem more logical, they only increased the 
resistance of the Dutch people. This resistance was additionally fortified by the 
London radio, on which the Dutch could hear the sane voice of their own legal 
government. Had the Nazis not argued and justified so much, and had they been 
able to prevent all written, printed, or spoken communication, the long period of 
boredom would have inhibited our democratic conditioning, and we might well have 
been more seduced by the Nazi oversimplifications and slogans. 


Political Conditioning 

Political conditioning should not be confused with training or persuasion or even 
indoctrination. It is more than that. It is tampering. It is taking possession of both the 
simplest and the most complicated nervous patterns of man. It is the battle for the 
possession of the nerve cells. It is coercion and enforced conversion. Instead of 
conditioning man to an unbiased facing of reality, the seducer conditions him to 
catchwords, verbal stereotypes, slogans, formulas, symbols. Pavlovian strategy in 
the totalitarian sense means imprinting prescribed reflexes on a mind that has been 
broken down. The totalitarian wants first the required response from the nerve cells, 
then control of the individual, and finally control of the masses. The system starts 
with verbal conditioning and training by combining the required stereotypes with 
negative or positive stimuli: pain, or reward. In the P.O.W. camps in Korea where 
there was individual and mass brainwashing, the negative and positive conditioning 
stimuli were usually hunger and food. The moment the soldier conformed to the party 
line his food ration was improved: say yes, and I'll give you a piece of candy! 

The whole gamut of negative stimuli, as we saw them in the Schwable case, consists 
of physical pressure, moral pressure, fatigue, hunger, boring repetition, confusion by 
seemingly logical syllogisms. Many victims of totalitarianism have told me in 
interviews that the most upsetting experience they faced in the concentration camps 
was the feeling of loss of logic, the state of confusion into which they had been 
brought the state in which nothing had any validity. They had arrived at the Pavlovian 
state of inhibition, which psychiatrists call mental disintegration or depersonalization. 
It seemed as if they had unlearned all their former responses and had not yet 
adopted new ones. But in reality they simply did not know what was what. 

The Pavlovian theory translated into a political method, as a way of levelling the 
mind (the Nazis called it "Gleichschaltung") is the stock in trade of totalitarian 
countries. Some psychiatric points are of interest because we see that Pavlovian 
training can be used successfully only when special mental conditions prevail. In 
order to tame people into the desired pattern, victims must be brought to a point 
where they have lost their alert consciousness and mental awareness. Freedom of 
discussion and free intellectual exchange hinder conditioning. Feelings of terror, 
feelings of fear and hopelessness, of being alone, of standing with one's back to the 
wall, must be instilled. 

The treatment of American prisoners of war in the Korean P.O.W. camps followed 
just such a pattern. They were compelled to listen to lectures and other forms of daily 
word barrage. The very fact that they did not understand the lectures and were bored 
by the long sessions inhibited their democratic training, and conditioned them to 
swallow passively the bitter doctrinal diet, for the prisoners were subjected not only 
to a political training program, but also to an involuntary taming program. To some 
degree the Communist propaganda lectures were directed toward retraining the 
prisoners' minds. This training our soldiers could reject, but the endless repetitions 
and the constant sloganizing, together with the physical hardships and deprivations 
the prisoners suffered, caused an UNCONSCIOUS TAMING and conditioning, 
against which only previously built up inner strength and awareness could help. 


There is still another reason why our soldiers were sometimes trapped by the 
Communist conditioning. Experiments with animals and experiences with human 
beings have taught us that threat, tension, and anxiety, in general, may accelerate 
the establishment of conditioned responses, particularly when those responses tend 
to diminish fear and panic (Spence and Farber). The emergency of prison camp life 
and mental torture provide ideal circumstances for such conditioning. The responses 
can develop even when the victim is completely unaware that he is being influenced. 
Thus, many of our soldiers developed automatic responses of which they remained 
completely unconscious (Segal). But this is only one side of the coin, for experience 
has also shown that people who know what to expect under conditions of mental 
pressure can develop a so called perceptual defense, which protects them from 
being influenced. This means that the more familiar people are with the concepts of 
thought control and menticide, the more they understand the nature of the 
propaganda barrage directed against them, the more inner resistance they can put 
up, even though inevitably some of the inquisitor's suggestions will leak through the 
barrier of conscious mental defense. 

Our understanding of the conditioning process leads us also to an understanding of 
some of the paradoxical reactions found among victims of concentration camps and 
other prisoners. Often those with a rigid, simple belief were better able to withstand 
the continual barrage against their minds than were the flexible, sophisticated ones, 
full of doubt and inner conflicts. The simple man with deep rooted, freely absorbed 
religious faith could exert a much greater inner resistance than could the complex, 
questioning intellectualist. The refined intellectual is much more handicapped by the 
internal pros and cons. 

In totalitarian countries, where belief in Pavlovian strategy has assumed grotesque 
proportions, the self thinking, subjective man has disappeared. There is an utter 
rejection of any attempt at persuasion or discussion. Individual self expression is 
taboo. Private affection is taboo. 

Peaceful exchange of free thoughts in free conversation will disturb the conditioned 
reflexes and is therefore taboo. No longer are there any brains, only conditioned 
patterns and educated muscles. In such a taming system neurotic compulsion is 
looked upon as a positive asset instead of something pathological. The mental 
automaton becomes the ideal of education. 

Yet the Soviet theoreticians themselves are often unaware of this, and many of them 
do not realize the dire consequences of subjecting man to a completely mechanistic 
conditioning. They themselves are often just as frightened as we are by the picture of 
the perfectly functioning human robot. This is what one of their psychologists says: 
"The entire reactionary nature of this approach to man is completely clear. Man is an 
automaton who can be caused to act as one wills! This is the ideal of capitalism! 
Behold the dream of capitalism the world over a working class without 
consciousness, which cannot think for itself, whose actions can be trained according 
to the whim of the exploiter! This is the reason why it is in America, the bulwark of 
present day capitalism, that the theory of man as a robot has been so vigorously 
developed and so stubbornly held to." (Bauer) 


Western psychology and psychiatry, although acknowledging its debt to Pavlov as a 
great pioneer who made important contributions to our understanding of behaviour, 
takes a much less mechanical view of man than do the Soviet Pavlovians. It is 
apparent to us that their simple explanation of training ignores and rejects the 
concept of purposeful adaptation and the question of the goals to which this training 
is directed. Western experimental psychologists tend to see the conditioned reflex as 
developing fully only in the service of gratifying basic instinctual needs or of avoiding 
pain, that is, only when the whole organism is concerned in the activity. In that 
complicated process of response to the world, conscious, and especially 
unconscious, drives and motivations play a role. 

All training, of which the conditioned response is only one example, is an 
automatization of actions which were originally consciously learned and thought 
over. The ideal of Western democratic psychology is to train men into independence 
and maturity by enlisting their conscious aid, awareness, and volition in the learning 
process. The ideal of the totalitarian psychology, on the other hand, is to tame men, 
to make them willing tools in the hands of their leaders. Like training, taming has the 
purpose of making actions automatic; unlike training, it does not require the 
conscious participation of the learner. Both training and taming are energy and 
timesaving devices, and in both the mystery of the psyche is hidden in the 
purposefulness of the responses. The automatization of functions in man saves him 
expenditure of energy but can make him weaker when encountering new 
unexpected challenges. 

Cultural routinization and habit formation by local rules and myths make of 
everybody a partial automaton. National and racial prejudices are acted out 
unwittingly. Group hatred often bursts out almost automatically when triggered by 
slogans and catchwords. In a totalitarian world, this narrow disciplinarian 
conditioning is done more "perfectly" and more "ad absurdum." 


The Urge to Be Conditioned 

One suggestion this chapter is not intended to convey is that Pavlovian conditioning 
as such is something wrong. This kind of conditioning occurs everywhere where 
people are together in common interaction. The speaker influences the listener, but 
the listener also the speaker. Through the process of conditioning people often learn 
to like and to do what they are allowed to like and do. The more isolated the group, 
the stricter the conditioning that takes place in those belonging to the group. In some 
groups one finds people more capable than others of conveying suggestion and 
bringing about conditioning. Gradually one can discern the stronger ones, the better 
adjusted ones, the more experienced ones, and those noisier ones, whose ability to 
condition others is strongest. Every group, every club, every society has its leading 
Pavlovian Bell. This kind of person imprints his inner bell ringing on others. He can 
even develop a system of monolithic bell ringing: no other influential bell is allowed to 
compete with him. 

Another subtler question belongs to these problems. Why is there in us so great an 
urge to be conditioned, the urge to learn, to imitate, to conform, and to follow the 
pattern of family and group? This urge to be conditioned, to submit to the communal 
pattern and the family pattern must be related to man's dependency on parents and 
fellow men. Animals are not so dependent on one another. In the whole animal 
kingdom man is one of the most helpless and naked beings. But among the animals 
man has, relatively, the longest youth and time for learning. 

Puzzlement and doubt, which inevitably arise in the training process, are the 
beginnings of mental freedom. Of course, the initial puzzlement and doubt is not 
enough. Behind that there has to be faith in our democratic freedoms and the will to 
fight for it. I hope to come back to this central problem of faith in moral freedom as 
differentiated from conditioned loyalty and servitude in the last chapter. Puzzlement 
and doubt are, however, already crimes in the totalitarian state. The mind that is 
open for questions is open for dissent. In the totalitarian regime the doubting, 
inquisitive, and imaginative mind has to be suppressed. The totalitarian slave is only 
allowed to memorize, to salivate when the bell rings. 

It is not my task here to elaborate on the subject of the biased use of Pavlovian rules 
by totalitarians, but without doubt part of the interpretation of any psychology is 
determined by the ways we think about our fellow human beings and man's place in 
nature. If our ideal is to make conditioned zombies out of people, the current misuse 
of Pavlovianism will serve our purpose. But once we become even vaguely aware 
that in the totalitarian picture of man the characteristic human note is missing, and 
when see that in such a scheme man sacrifices his instinctual desires, his pleasures, 
his aims, his goals, his creativity, his instinct for freedom, his paradoxicality, we 
immediately turn against this political perversion of science. Such use of Pavlovian 
technique is aimed only at developing the automaton in man, not his free alert mind 
that is aware of moral goals and aims in life. 


Even in laboratory animals we have found that affective goal directedness can spoil 
the Pavlovian experiment. When, during a bell food training session, the dog's 
beloved master entered the room, the animal lost all its previous conditioning and 
began to bark excitedly. Here is a simple example of an age old truth: love and 
laughter break through all rigid conditioning. The rigid automaton cannot exist 
without spontaneous self expression. Apparently, the fact that the dog's spontaneous 
affection for his master could ruin all the mechanical calculations and manipulations 
never occurred to Pavlov's totalitarian students. 



As we have already seen in the preceding chapters, it is not only the political and 
Pavlovian pressure that may drag down man's mind into servile submissiveness. 
There are many other human habits and actions which have a coercive influence. 

All kinds of rumours have been circulated telling how brainwashees, before 
surrendering to their inquisitor, have been poisoned with mysterious drugs. This 
chapter aims to describe what medical techniques -- not only drugs -- can do to 
reach behind man's inner secrets. Actually the thought-control police no longer need 
drugs, though occasionally they have been used. 

I will touch upon another side to this problem as well, namely, our dangerous social 
dependence on various drugs, the problem of addiction, making it easier for us to 
slip into the pattern of submissiveness. The alcoholic has no mental backbone any 
more when you give him his drink. The same is true for the chronic user of sedatives 
or other pills. The use of alcohol or drugs may result in a chemical dependency, 
weakening our stamina under exceptional circumstances. 

In the field of practical medicine, magic thinking is still rampant. Though we flatter 
ourselves that we are rational and logical in our choice of therapy, somewhere we 
know that hidden feelings and unconscious motivations direct the prescribing hand. 
In spite of the therapeutic triumphs of the last fifty years (since 1900), the era of 
chemotherapy and antibiotics, let us not forget that the same means of medical 
victory can be used to defeat our purposes. 

No day passes that the mail does not flood the doctor's office with suggestions about 
what to use in his clinical practice. My desk overflows with gadgets and 
multicoloured pills telling me that without them mankind cannot be happy. The 
propaganda campaign reaching our medical eyes and ears is often so laden with 
suggestions that we can be persuaded to distribute sedatives and stimulants where 
straight critical thinking would deter us and we would seek the deeper causes of the 
difficulties. This is true not only for modern pharmacotherapy; the same tendencies 
can also be shown in psychotherapeutic methods. 

This chapter aims to approach the problem of mental coercion with the question: 
How compulsive can the use of medical drugs and medical and psychological 
methods become? In the former chapters on menticide I was able to describe 
political attempts to bring the human mind into submission and servility. Drugs and 
their psychological equivalents are also able to enslave people. 


The Search for Ecstasy Through Drugs 

Among drug addicts of all sorts we repeatedly encounter the yearning for a special 
ecstatic and euphoric mood, a feeling of living beyond everyday trouble. "Thou has 
the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty opium!" Thomas De Quincey says, in 
his "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater." Although the ecstatic state is different 
for each person who experiences it, the addict always tells us that the drug takes him 
to the lost paradise he is looking for; it brings him a feeling of eternal euphoria and 
free elation that takes him past the restrictions of life and time. 

In the ecstatic state, man arranges the universe according to his own desires and, at 
the same time, seeks communion with the Higher Order of things. But the ecstatic 
state has its negative as well as its positive aspects. It may represent the Yogi's 
mystic feeling of unity with the universe, but it may also mean the chronic intoxicated 
state of the drunkard or the passion of some manic psychotic states. The feeling may 
express the intensified spiritual experience of a dedicated study group, but, on the 
other hand, it may be encountered in the lynch mob and the riot. There are many 
kinds of ecstasy -- aesthetic ecstasy, mystic ecstasy, and sick, toxic ecstasy. 

The search for ecstatic experience is not only an individual search, it often reaches 
out to encompass whole groups. When moral controls become too burdensome, 
whole civilizations may give themselves up to uncontrolled orgies such as we saw in 
the Greek Bacchanalia and the contagious dance-fury of the Middle Ages. In these 
mass orgies, artificial stimulants are not necessarily used. The hypnotic influence of 
being part of the crowd can induce the same loss of control and sense of union with 
the outside world that we associate with drugs. In the mass orgy the individual loses 
his conscience and self-control. His sexual inhibitions may disappear; he is 
temporarily relieved of his deep frustrations and the burden of unconscious guilt. He 
endeavours to experience the blissful sensations of utter yielding to his own body 
needs and desires. 

The ecstatic participation in mass elation is the oldest psychodrama in the world. 
Taking part in some common action results in a tremendous emotional relief and 
catharsis for every individual in the group. This feeling of participation in the magic 
omnipotent group, of reunion and communion with the all-embracing forces in the 
world brings euphoria to the normal person and feelings of pseudo-strength to the 
weak. The demagogue who is able to provide such ecstatic release in the masses 
can be sure of their yielding to his influence and power. Dictators love to organize 
such mass rituals in the service of their dictatorial aims. 

Ever since man has been a conscious being, he has tried from time to time to break 
down the inevitable tension between himself and the outside world. When mental 
alertness cannot be relaxed now and then, when the world is too much and too 
constantly with him, man may try to lose himself in the deep waters of oblivion. 
Ecstasy, drugged sleep, and its fantasies and swoons of mental exaltation 
temporarily take him beyond the burdensome effort of keeping his senses and ego 
alert and intact. Drugs can bring him to this state, and any addiction may be 
explained as a continuing need to escape. 


The body cooperates with the mind in this search for an evasion of life, and drugs 
gradually become a body need as well as an emotional necessity. 

In criminal circles addicting drugs like cocaine and heroin are often given to 
members of the gang in order to make them more submissive to the leader who 
distributes them. The man who provides the drug becomes almost a god to the 
members of the gang. They will go through hell in order to acquire the drug they so 
desperately need. 

In the hands of a powerful tyrant, this medication into dependency can become 
extremely dangerous. It is not unthinkable that a diabolical dictator might want to use 
addiction as a means of bringing a rebellious people into submission. In May, 1954, 
during a discussion in the World Health Organization, the fact was disclosed that 
Communist China, while forbidding the use of opium in her own country, was 
smuggling and exporting it in great quantities to her neighbours, who have 
consequently been compelled to carry on a constant struggle against opium 
addiction among their own people and against the passivity which results from use of 
the drug. 

At the same time, according to officials of Thailand who made the charge and 
requested U.N. aid, Communist China has been sending all kinds of subversive 
propagandists into Thailand. Thailand charged that the Chinese were using every 
device they know to infect the Siamese people with their ideology: brainweakening 
opium addiction, leaflets, radio, whispering campaigns, and so on. 

The Nazis followed a similar strategy. During the occupation of Western Europe, 
they created an artificial shortage of normal medicaments by halting their usual 
export of healing drugs to the "inferior" countries. However, they made an exception 
in the case of barbiturates. In Holland, for example, these drugs were made readily 
available in many drugstores without doctors' prescriptions, a situation which was 
against customary Dutch law. Although the right therapeutic drugs were not made 
available for medical work, the drugs which created passivity, dependence, and 
lethargy were widely distributed. 

The totalitarian dictator knows that drugs can be his helpers. It was Hitler's intention, 
in his so-called biological warfare, to weaken and subdue the countries that 
surrounded the Third Reich, and to break their backbones for good. Hunger and 
addiction were among his most valuable tools. 

What has all this to do with the growing addiction and alcoholism in our own country? 
I have already mentioned the alarming increases in death from barbiturates. But I 
would like to emphasize even more the psychological and political consequences. 
Democracy and freedom end where slavery and submission to drugs and alcohol 
begin. Democracy involves free, self-chosen activity and understanding; it means 
mature self-control and independence. Any man who escapes from reality through 
the use of alcohol and drugs is no longer a free agent; he is no longer able to exert 
any voluntary control over his mind and his actions. He is no longer a self- 
responsible individual. Alcoholism and drug addiction prepare the pattern of mental 
submission so beloved by the totalitarian brainwasher. 


Hypnotism and Mental Coercion 

From time immemorial those who wanted to know the inner workings of the other 
fellow's mind in order to exert pressure on him have used artificial means to find the 
hidden pathways to his most private thoughts. Modern brainwashers, too, have tried 
all kinds of drugs to arrive at their devious objectives. The primitive medicine man 
had several methods of compelling his victim to lose his self-control and reserve. 
Alcoholic drinks, toxic ointments, or permeating holy smoke which had a narcotizing 
effect, as used by the Mayas, for example, were used to bring people into such a 
state of rapture that they lost their self-awareness and restraint. The victims, 
murmuring sacred words, often revealed their self-accusing fantasies or even their 
deepest secrets. 

In the Middle Ages, so-called witch ointments were used either voluntarily or under 
pressure. These ointments were supposed to bring the anointed into touch with the 
devil. Since they contained opiates and belladonna in large quantities, which could 
have been absorbed by the skin, modern science can explain the ecstatic visions 
they evoked as the typical hallucination-provoking effect of these drugs. 

One of the first useful techniques medicine delivered into the hands of the prier - into 
souls was the knowledge of hypnosis, that intensified mental suggestion that makes 
people give up their own will and brings them into a strange dependency on the 
hypnotizer. The Egyptian doctors of three thousand years ago knew the technique of 
hypnosis, and ancient records tell us that they practiced it. 

There are many quacks who practice hypnosis, not to cure their victims but to force 
them into submission, using the victim's unconscious ties and dependency needs in 
a criminal, profitable way. One of the most absorbing aspects of this whole problem 
of hypnosis is the question of whether people can be forced to commit crimes, such 
as murder or treason, while under a hypnotic spell. Many psychologists would deny 
that such a thing could happen and would insist that no person can be compelled to 
do under hypnosis what he would refuse to do in a state of alert consciousness. But 
actually what a person can be compelled to do depends on the degree of 
dependency that hypnosis causes and the frequency of repetition of the so-called 
posthypnotic suggestions. 

Actual psychoanalysis teaches that there even exist several other devices to live 
other people's lives. True, no hypnotizer can take away a man's conscience and 
inner resistance immediately, but he can arouse the latent murderous wishes which 
may become active in his victim's unconscious by continual suggestion and continual 
playing upon those deeply repressed desires. Actual knowledge of methods used in 
brainwashing and menticide proves that all this can be done. 

If the hypnotizer persists long enough and cleverly enough, he can be successful in 
his aim. There are many antisocial desires lying hidden in all people. The hypnotic 
technique, if cleverly enough applied, can bring them to the surface and cause them 
to be acted out in life. 


The mass criminality of the guards in concentration camps finds part of its 
explanation in the hypnotizing influence of the totalitarian state and its criminal 
dictator. Psychological study of criminals shows that their first violation of moral and 
legal codes often takes place under the strong influence and suggestion of other 
criminals. This we may look upon as an initial form of hypnosis, which is a more 
intensified form of suggestion. 

True, the incitement to crime in a hypnotic state demands specially favourable 
conditions, but unfortunately these conditions can be found in the real and actual 

Recently there has been much judicial discussion of the problem of the psychiatrist 
who uses his special knowledge of suggestion to force a confession from a 
defendant. Such a psychiatrist is going beyond the commonly accepted concepts of 
the limitations of psychiatry and beyond psychiatric ethics. He is misusing the 
patient's trust in the medical confidant and therapist in order to provoke a confession, 
which will then be used against the patient temporarily in his care. In so doing, the 
doctor not only acts against his Hippocratic oath, in which he promised only to work 
for the good of his patients and never to disclose his professional secrets, he also 
violates the constitutional safeguards accorded a defendant by the Fifth Amendment 
of the United States Constitution, which protects a man against self-incrimination. 
What a defendant will reveal under hypnosis depends on his conscious and 
unconscious attitudes toward the entire question of magic influence and mental 
intrusion by another person. People are usually less likely to stand on their legal 
rights in dealing with a doctor than in dealing with a lawyer or a policeman. They 
have a yielding attitude because they expect magic help. 

An interesting example of this can be seen in a case that was recently decided by 
the Supreme Court. In 1950, Camilio Weston Leyra, a man in his fifties, was arrested 
and accused by the police of the brutal hammer murder of his aged parents in their 
Brooklyn flat ("People v. Leyra"). At first, under prolonged questioning by the police, 
Leyra denied any knowledge of the crime and stated that he had not even been at 
his parents' home on the day of the murder. Later, after further interrogation by the 
police, he said he had been at their home that day, but he remained firm in his denial 
of the murder. He was detained in jail, and a psychiatrist was brought in to talk to 
him. Their conversation was recorded on tape. The psychiatrist told Leyra that he 
was "his doctor," although in fact he was not. Under slight hypnosis and after 
continued suggestion that Leyra would be better off if he admitted to having 
committed the murder in a fit of passion, Leyra agreed to confess to the crime. The 
police were called back in, and the confession was taken down. 

During his trial, Leyra repudiated the confession, insisting that he had been under 
hypnosis. He was convicted, but the conviction was set aside on the grounds that the 
confession had been wrested from him involuntarily, and that his constitutional 
safeguards had been denied him. Later, Leyra was brought to trial and convicted a 
second time. Finally his case was appealed to the Supreme Court, which reversed 
the conviction in June, 1954, on the grounds that mental pressure and coercive 
psychiatric techniques had been used to induce the confession. The Supreme Court 
gave its opinion here, indirectly, of the responsibility of the brainwashed P.O.W. 


For us, the question of Leyra's guilt or innocence is less important than the fact that 
under mental pressure he was induced to do what he would ordinarily have resisted 
doing, and that his confidence in the doctor, which led him to relax the defences he 
would doubtless have put up against other investigators, was used to break him 

Suggestion and hypnosis are considered by some to be a psychological blessing, 
but they can also be the beginning of terror. Mass hypnosis, for example, can have a 
dangerous influence on the individual. Psychiatrists have found several times that 
public demonstrations of mass hypnosis may provoke an increased hypnotic 
dependency and submissiveness in many members of the audience that can last for 
years. Largely for this reason Great Britain has passed a law making seances and 
mass hypnotism illegal. Hypnosis may act as a trigger mechanism for a repressed 
dependency need in the victim and turn him temporarily into a kind of waking sleep- 
walker and mental slave. The hypnotic command relieves him of his personal 
responsibility, and he surrenders much of his conscience to his hypnotizer. As we 
mentioned before, our own times have provided us with far too many examples of 
how political hypnosis, mob hypnosis, and even war hypnosis can turn civilized men 
into criminals. 

Some personalities are more amenable to hypnosis than others. Strong egos can 
defend themselves for a long time against mental intrusion, but they too may have a 
point of surrender. There are overtly critical persons who are much less sensitive to 
suggestion from the outside than to images from within themselves. We can 
distinguish between heterosuggestive and autosuggestive personalities, although 
quite a variety of reactions to hypnosis and suggestion can be distinguished. But 
even these autosuggestive types, if subjected to enough pressure, will gradually 
build up internal justification for giving in to mental coercion. 

Those "charming" characters who are easily able to influence others are often 
extremely susceptible to suggestion themselves. Some personalities with a 
tremendous gift for empathy and identification provoke in others the desire to yield 
up all their secrets; they seem somehow to be the Father Confessor by the grace of 
God. Other emphatic types, by reflecting their own deceitful inner world, can more 
easily provoke the hidden lies and fantasies in their victims. Still others make us 
close up completely. Why one man should inspire the desire to give in and another 
the desire to resist is one of the mysteries of human relationships and contact. Why 
do certain personalities complement and reinforce one another while others clash 
and destroy one another? Psychoanalysis has given new insight into those strange 
human relations and involvements. 


Needling for the Truth 

During the Second World war, the technique of the so-called truth serum (the 
popular name for narco-analysis) was developed to help soldiers who had broken 
down under the strain of battle. Through narco-analysis by means of injections of 
sedatives, they could be brought to remember and reveal the hyper-emotional and 
traumatic moments of their war experiences that had driven them into acute anxiety 
neurosis. Gradually a useful mental first-aid technique was developed which helped 
the unconscious to reveal its secrets while the patient was under the influence of the 

How does the truth serum work? The principle is simple: after an injection, the mind 
in a kind of half-sleep is unable to control its secrets, and it may let them slip from 
the hidden reservoirs of frustration and repression into the half-conscious mind. In 
certain acute anxiety cases, such enforced provocation may alleviate the anxieties 
and pressures that have led to breakdown. But narco-analysis often does not work. 
Sometimes the patient's mind resents this chemical intrusion and enforced 
intervention, and such a situation often obstructs the way for deeper and more useful 

The fear of unexpected mental intrusion and coercion may be pathological in 
character. When I first published my concept of menticide and brainwashing, I 
received dozens of letters and phone calls from people who were convinced that 
some outside person was trying to influence them and direct their thoughts. This 
form of "mental intrusion delusion" may be the early stage of a serious psychosis in 
which the victim has already regressed to primitive magic feelings. In this state the 
whole outside world is seen and felt as participating in what is going on in the victim's 
mind. There is, as it were, no real awareness of the frontiers between "I", the person, 
and the world. Such fear-ridden persons are in constant agony because they feel 
themselves the victims of many mysterious influences which they cannot check or 
cope with; they feel continually endangered. Psychologically, their fear of intrusion 
from the outside can be partially explained as a fear of the intrusion of their own 
fantasies from the inside, from the unconscious. They are frightened by their own 
hidden, unconscious thoughts which they can no longer check. 

It would be a vast oversimplification to stick an easy psychiatric label on all such 
feelings of mental persecution, for there are many real, outside mental pressures in 
our world, and there are many perfectly normal people who are continually aware of 
and disturbed by the barrage of stimuli directed at their minds through propaganda, 
advertising, radio, television, the movies, the newspapers - all the gibbering 
maniacs whose voices never stop. These people suffer because a cold, mechanical, 
shouting world is knocking continually at the doors of their minds and disturbing their 
feelings of privacy and personal integrity. 


There is the further question of whether or not the drugs used in the truth serum 
always produce the desired effect of compelling the patient to tell the inner truth. 
Experiments conducted at Yale University in 1951 (J. M. MacDonald) on nine 
persons who received intravenous injections of sodium amatol -- the so-called truth 
serum -- showed interesting results, tending to weaken our faith in this drug. 

Each of the patients, prior to the injection, had been suggested a false story related 
to a historical period about which he was going to be questioned. The experimenters 
knew both the true and the false story. Let me quote from the report: "It is of interest 
that the three subjects diagnosed as normal maintained their [suggested] stories. Of 
the six subjects diagnosed as neurotic, two promptly revealed the true story; two 
made partial admissions, consisting of a complex pattern of fantasy and truth; one 
communicated what most likely was a fantasy as truth; and the one obsessive- 
compulsive individual maintained his cover story except for one parapraxia (faulty or 
blundering action)." 

In several cases, American law courts have refused to admit as evidence the results 
of truth serum tests, largely on the basis of psychiatric conviction that the truth serum 
treatment is misnamed; that, in fact, narco-analysis is no guarantee of getting at the 
truth. It may even be used as a coercive threat in cases where victims are not aware 
of it limited action. 

Still another danger, more closely related to our subject, is that a criminal 
investigator can induce and communicate his own thoughts and feelings to his 
victim. Thus the truth serum may cause the patient with a weak ego to yield to the 
interventionist's synthetically injected thoughts and interpretations in exactly the 
same way the victim of hypnosis may take over the suggestions implanted by the 

Additionally, this method of inquisition by drugs contains some physical danger. I 
myself have seen cases of thrombosis develop as a result of intravenous medication 
of barbiturates. 

Experiments with mescaline, which started thirty years ago (in the 1920s), are 
suddenly fashionable again. Aldous Huxley in his recent book THE DOORS OF 
PERCEPTION described the artificial chemical paradise which he experienced after 
taking the drug (also known as peyote). It can stimulate all kinds of pleasant, 
subjective symptoms, but these are, nevertheless, delusive in character. I do not 
want to start a clinical argument with another author, yet his own euphoric ecstatic 
reactions to mescaline are not necessarily the same as those other people 
experience. Mescaline is dangerous stuff when not used under medical control. And, 
anyway, why does Mr. Huxley want to sell artificial heavens? 

There is a very serious social danger in all these methods of chemical intrusion into 
the mind. True, they can be used as a careful aid to psychotherapy, but they can 
also be frightening instruments of control in the hands of men with an overwhelming 
drive to power. 


In addition, they fortify more than ever in our "aspirin age" the fiction that we have to 
use miracle drugs in order to become free-acting agents. The propaganda for 
chemical elation, for artificial ecstasy and pseudo-nirvanic experience contains an 
invitation to men to become chemical dependents, and chemical dependents are 
weak people who can be made use of by any tyrannical political potentate. The 
actual propaganda carried on among general practitioners using treatment with all 
kinds of anxieties and mental disturbances with new drugs has the same kind of 
dangerous implications. 


The Lie-Detector 

Hypnotism and narco-analysis are only two of the current devices that can be 
misused as instruments of enforced intrusion into the mind. The lie-detector, which 
has already been used as a tool for mental intimidation, is another. This apparatus, 
useful for psychobiological experimentation, can indicate - through writing down 
meticulously the changes in the psychogalvanic reflex - that the human guinea pig 
under investigation reacts more emotionally to certain questions than to others. True, 
this overreaction may be the reaction to having told a lie, but it may also be an 
innocent person's reaction to an emotion-laden situation or even to an increased fear 
of unjust accusation. 

The interpersonal processes between interrogator and testee have just as much 
influence on the emotional reactions and the changes in the galvanic reflex as 
feelings of inner guilt and confusion. This experiment only indicates inner turmoil and 
hidden repressions, with all their doubts and ambiguities. 

It is not in fact a lie-detector, although it is used as such (D. MacDonald). As a matter 
of fact, the pathological liar and the psychopathic, conscienceless personality may 
show less reaction to this experiment than do normal people. The lie-detector is 
more likely to become a tool of coercion in the hands of men who look more for a 
powerful magic in every instrument than a means of getting at the truth. As a result, 
even the innocent can be fooled into false confession. 


The Therapist as an Instrument of Coercion 

Medical therapy and psychotherapy are the subtle sciences of human guidance in 
periods of physical and emotional stress. Just as training requires the alert, well 
planned participation of both student and teacher, so successful psychotherapy 
requires the alert, well-planned participation of both patient and doctor. And just as 
educational training, under special conditions, can degenerate into coercive taming, 
so therapy can degenerate into the imposition of the doctor's will on his patient. The 
doctor himself need not even be conscious that this is happening. The misuse of 
therapy may show itself in the patient's submission to the doctor's point of view or in 
the patient's development of excessive dependency on his therapist. Such a 
dependency, and even increased dependency need, may extend not only far beyond 
the usual limits, but may continue even after the therapy has run its course. 

I have seen quacks whose only knowledge was where to buy their couches. By 
calling themselves psychoanalysts they were able to gratify their own need to live 
other people's lives. Eventually the law will have to establish standards which can 
keep these dangerous intruders from psychotherapeutic practice. But even the 
honest, conscientious therapist has a serious moral problem to face. His profession 
itself continually encourages him, indeed obliges him, to make his patients 
temporarily dependent on him, and this may appeal to his own need for a sense of 
importance and power. He must be continually aware of the impact his statements 
and deductions have on his patients who often listen in awe to the doctor who is for 
them the omniscient magician. The therapist must not encourage this submissive 
attitude in his patients -- though in some phases of treatment it will help the therapy - 
- for good psychotherapy aims toward educating man for freedom and maturity not 
for conforming submission. 

The practitioners of psychology and psychiatry are now much more aware of the 
responsibility their profession imposes on them than they have ever been heretofore. 
The tools of psychology are dangerous in the hands of the wrong men. 

Modern educational methods can be applied in therapy to streamline man's brain 
and change his opinions so that his thinking conforms with certain ideological 
systems. Medicine and psychiatry may become more and more involved in political 
strategy as we have seen in the strategy of brainwashing, and for this reason 
psychologists and psychiatrists must become more aware of the nature of the 
scientific tools they use. 

The emphasis on therapeutic techniques, on students knowing all the facts and the 
tricks, the overemphasis on psychotherapeutic diplomas and labels lead actual 
therapy toward conformism and rationalization of principles that are in contrast to the 
personal sensitivity needed. Our critical and rational faculty can be a destructive one, 
destroying or disguising our basic doubts and ambivalences born out of tragic 
despair, that creator of human sensitivity. 


The danger of modern psychotherapy (and psychiatry) is the tendency toward 
formalizing human intuition and empathy, and toward making an abstraction of 
emotion and spontaneity. It is a contradiction to attempt to mechanize love and 
beauty. If this were possible, we would find ourselves in a world where there is no 
inspiration and ecstasy but only cold understanding. 

Every human relationship can be used for the wrong or the right aims, and this is 
especially true of the relationship of subtle unconscious ties which exist between 
psychotherapist and patient. This statement is equally true for medicine in general; 
the surgeon, too, thrives on strong ties with his patients and their willing submission 
to his surgical techniques. Experiences in therapy have taught us that faulty 
technique can give the patient feelings of being bogged down. Sometimes patients 
feel as if they have to remain living in servile submission to the doctor. I have seen 
whole families and sects swear by such modern witch doctors. 

No wonder that sound psychoanalytic instruction requires the therapist to admit 
himself for years of technique he is about to apply to others, so that, armed with 
knowledge of his own unsound unconscious needs, he will not try to use his 
profession to mastermind other people's lives. 

Various psychological agencies, with their different psychological concepts and 
techniques, such as family counselling, religious guidance, management counselling, 
and so forth, can easily be misused as tools of power. The good will that people 
invest in their leaders, doctors, and administrators is tremendous and can be used 
as a weapon against them. Even modern brain surgery for healing the mind could be 
misused by modern dictators to make zombies out of their competitors. Psychology 
itself may tend to standardize the mind, and the tendency among different schools of 
psychology to emphasize orthodoxy increases unwittingly the chance for mental 
coercion. ("If you don't talk my magic gobbledygook, I have to condition you to it.") It 
is easier to manipulate the minds of others than to avoid doing so. 

A free society gives its citizens the right to act as free agents. At the same time, it 
imposes on them the responsibility for maintaining their freedom, mental as well as 
political. If, through the use of modern medical, chemical, and mechanical 
techniques of mental intrusion, we reduce man's capacity to act on his own initiative, 
we subvert our own beliefs and weaken our free system. Just as there is a deliberate 
political brainwashing, so there can be a suggestive intrusion masquerading under 
the name of justice or therapy. This may be less obtrusive than the deliberate 
totalitarian attack, but it is no less dangerous. 

Medication into submission is an existing fact. Man can use his knowledge of the 
mind of a fellow being not to help him, but to hurt him and bog him down. The 
magician can increase his power by increasing the anxieties and fears of his victim, 
by exploiting his dependency needs, and by provoking his feelings of guilt and 

Drugs and medical techniques can be used to make man a submissive and 
conforming being. This we have to keep in mind in order to be able to make him 
really healthy and free. 





Is there a bridge from the concept of Pavlovian conditioning to deeper psychological 
understanding? Only in those Pavlovian theoreticians who deny modern depth 
psychology does there exist a conflict between concepts. Pavlov himself 
acknowledged the presence of deeper, hidden motivations in man and the limitations 
of his study of animal behaviour. 

Our task is to go back to the brainwashee, asking ourselves: How can we better 
convey an understanding of what happened to him? What were the Pavlovian 
circumstances, and what were the inner motivations to yield to enforced political 
manipulation of the mind? Was it cowardice, was it a prison psychosis, was it the 
general loss of mental stamina in our world? 

In the following observations and experiences I hope to make use of the clinical 
insight actually provided by modern depth psychology. 

The Upset Philosopher 

One day in 1672, the lonely philosopher of reason, Spinoza, had to be forcibly 
restrained by his friends and neighbours. He wanted to rush out into the streets and 
shout his indignation at the mob which had murdered his good friend Jan De Witt, 
noble statesman of the Dutch Republic, who had been falsely accused of treason. 
But presently he calmed down and retreated to his room where, as usual, he ground 
optical lenses according to a daily and hitherto unbroken routine. 

As he worked, he thought back to his own behaviour, which had been no more 
rational or sensible than the behaviour of the rioting crowd which had killed De Witt. 
It was then that Spinoza realized the existence of the emotional beast hidden 
beneath human reason, which, when aroused, can act in a wanton and destructive 
fashion, and can conjure up thousands of justifications and excuses for its behaviour. 
For, as Spinoza sensed, and as was later discovered, people are not the rational 
creatures they think they are. In the unconscious, that vast storehouse of deeply 
buried memories, emotions, and strivings, lie many irrational yearnings, which 
constantly influence the conscious acts. All of us are governed to some degree by 
this hidden tyrant, and by the conflict between our reason and our emotions. 

To the extent that we are the victims of unchecked unconscious drives, to that extent 
we may be vulnerable to mental manipulation. 


And although there is a horrifying fascination in the idea that our mental resistance is 
relatively weak, that the very quality which distinguishes one man from another - the 
individual "I" can be profoundly altered by psychological pressures, such 
transformations are merely extremes of a process we find operating in normal life. 
Through systematized suggestion, subtle propaganda, and more overt mass 
hypnosis, the human mind in its expressions is changed daily in any society. 
Advertising seduces the democratic citizen into using quackeries or one special 
brand of soap instead of another. Our wish to buy things is continually stimulated. 
Campaigning politicians seek to influence us by their glamour as well as by their 
programs. Fashion experts hypnotize us into periodic changes of our standards of 
beauty and good taste. 

In cases of menticide, however, this assault on the integrity of the human mind is 
more direct and premeditated. By playing on the irrational child lying hidden in the 
unconscious and by sharpening the internal conflict between reason and emotion, 
the inquisitor can bring his victims to abject surrender. 

All of the victims of deliberate menticide - the P.O.W.s in Korea, the imprisoned 
"traitors" to the dictatorial regimes of the Iron Curtain countries, the victims of the 
Nazi terror during the Second World War -- are people whose ways of life had been 
suddenly and dramatically altered. They had been torn from their homes, their 
families, their friends, and thrown into a frightening, abnormal atmosphere. The very 
strangeness of their surroundings made them more vulnerable to any attack on their 
values and attitudes. When the dictator exploits his victim's psychological needs in a 
threatening, hostile, and unfamiliar world, breakdown is almost sure to follow. 


The Barbed-Wire Disease 

Already during the First World War, peculiar mental reactions, mixtures of apathy 
and rage, could be discerned in prisoners of war as a defensive adjustment against 
the hardships of prison life, the boredom, the hunger, the lack of privacy, the 
continual insecurity. The Korean War added to this situation the greater cruelty of the 
enemy, the prolonged fear of death, malnutrition, diseases, systematic attacks on the 
prisoner's mind, the lack of sanitation, and the lack of all human dignity. 

Often improvement could be secured through acceptance of the totalitarian ideology. 
The psychological pressure not only led to an involvement with the enemy but 
caused mutual suspicion among the prisoners. 

As I have already described, the barbed-wire disease begins with the initial apathy 
and despair of all prisoners. There is passive surrender to fate. In fact, people can 
die out of such despair; it is as if all resistance was gone. Being anything but aloof 
and apathetic was even dangerous in a camp where the enemy wanted to debate 
and argue with you in order to tear down your mental resistance. Consequently a 
vicious circle was built up of apathy, not thinking, letting things go - a surrender to a 
complete zombie-like existence of mechanical dependency on the circumstances. 
Every sign of anger and alertness could be brutally punished by the enemy; that is 
why we do not find those sudden attacks of rage that were observed in the earlier 
prisoner-of-war camps during World Wars I and II. 

Results of psychological testing of the liberated soldiers from the Korean P.O.W. 
camps could indicate that this defensive apathy and retreat into secluded 
dependency was likely to be found in nearly all of them. Yet, after being brought 
back into normal surroundings, alertness and activity returned rather soon, even in 
two or three days. Those few who remained anxious, apathetic, and zombielike 
belong to the long chapter of war and battle neuroses (Strassman). 

What are some of the factors which can turn a man into a traitor to his own 
convictions, an informer, a confessor to heinous crimes, or an apparent collaborator? 


The Moment of Sudden Surrender 

Several victims of the Nazi inquisition have told me that the moment of surrender 
occurred suddenly and against their will. For days they had faced the fury of their 
interrogators, and then suddenly they fell apart. "All right, all right, you can have 
anything you want." 

And then came hours of remorse, of resolution, of a desperate wish to return to their 
previous position of firm resistance. They wanted to cry out: "Don't ask me anything 
else. I won't answer." And yet something in them, that conforming, complying being 
hidden deep in all of us, was on the move. 

This sudden surrender often happened after an unexpected accusation, a shock, a 
humiliation that particularly hurt, a punishment that burned, a surprising logic in the 
inquisitor's question that could not be counter-argued. I remember an experience of 
my own that illustrated the effect of such surprise. 

After my escape from a Nazi prison in occupied Holland, I was able to reach neutral 
Switzerland via Vichy France. When I arrived, I was put in a jail where, at first, I was 
treated rather kindly. After three days, however, I was denied an officer's right to 
asylum and was told that I would be deported back to Vichy France. To this 
information, my jailers sneeringly added the comment that I should be happy I was 
not going to be deported back to the Germans. 

When I left to be transported to the border, I was asked to sign a paper stating that 
all my possessions (which had been taken from me on my imprisonment) had been 
returned. I refused to sign because a few things -- unimportant in themselves, but of 
great emotional value to me - were not included in the package my jailers handed 
me. One of the guards looked at me with contempt, the second tapped his foot 
impatiently and repeatedly demanded that I sign the paper, the third scolded and 
chattered in a French that was completely unintelligible to me. I continued firm in my 

Suddenly one of my officers started to slap me around the face and to beat me. 
Overwhelmed by surprise that they should display such fury over a bagatelle, I 
surrendered and signed the paper. (From the Vichy prison to which I was sent, I was 
permitted to write a letter of protest to the Swiss government. I still carry the official 
apology I received.) 

This sudden change of mood of defiant resistance to one of submission must be 
explained by the unconscious action of contrasting feelings. Consciously we tell 
ourselves to be strong, but from deep within us the desire to give in and to comply 
beings to disturb us and to affect our behaviour. In psychology this is described as 
the innate ambivalence of all feelings. 


The Need to Collapse 

The vocabulary of psychopathology contains many sophisticated terms for the wish 
to succumb to mental pressure, such as "wish to regress," "dependency need," 
"mental masochism," "unconscious death wish," and many others. For our purposes, 
however, it is enough to state that every individual has two opposing needs which 
operate simultaneously: the need to be independent to be oneself; and the need 
NOT to be oneself, NOT to be anybody at all, NOT to resist mental pressure. 

The need to be inconspicuous, to disappear, and to be swallowed up by society is a 
common one. In its simplest form we can see it all around us as a tendency to 
conform. Under ordinary circumstances the need for anonymity is balanced by the 
need for individuality, and the mentally healthy person is one who can walk the fine 
line between them. But in the frightening, lonely situations in which the victims of 
menticidal terror find themselves - situations which have a nightmare quality, which 
are crammed with dangers so tremendous they cannot be grasped or understood 
because there is nobody to explain or reassure - the wish to collapse, to let go, to be 
not there, becomes almost irresistible. 

This experience was reported by many concentration-camp victims. They had come 
into camp with one unanswered question burning in their minds: "Why has all this 
happened to me?" Their need for a sense of direction, for a feeling of purpose and 
meaning was unsatisfied, and hence they could not maintain their personalities. 
They let themselves go in what psychopathology calls a depersonalization 
syndrome, a general feeing of having lost complete control of themselves and their 
own existence. What Pavlovian conditioning can do in applying artificial confusion, 
can be done too by one shocking experience. "For what?" they asked themselves. 
"What is the meaning of all this suffering?" And gradually they sank dully into that 
paralyzed state of semi-oblivion we call depression: the self-destructive needs take 

The Nazis were clever and unscrupulous in taking advantage of this need to 
collapse. The humiliation of concentration-camp life, the repeated suggestion that 
the Allies were as good as beaten - they conspired to convince the inmates that 
there would be no end to this pointless suffering, no victorious conclusion to the war, 
no future to their lives. The desire to break down, to give in, becomes almost 
insurmountable when a man feels that this horrible marginal existence is something 
permanent, that he cannot look toward a more personal goal, that he has to adjust to 
this dulling, degrading life forever. 

At the moment faith and hope disappear, man breaks down. There are tragic stories 
of concentration-camp victims who fixed all their expectations on the idea that 
liberation would come on Christmas, 1944, and aimed their entire existence toward 
that date. When it passed and they were still incarcerated, many of them simply 
collapsed and died. 


This tendency to collapse also serves as a protective device against danger. The 
victim seems to think, "If my torturer doesn't notice me, he will leave me alone." And 
yet this very feeling of anonymity, this sense of losing one's personality, of being 
useless, unnoticed and unwanted, also results in depression and apathy. Man's need 
to be an individual can never be completely killed. 


The Need for Companionship 

Not enough attention has been given to the psychology of loneliness, especially to 
the implications of enforced isolation of prisoners. When the sensory stimuli of 
everyday life are removed, man's entire personality may change. Social intercourse, 
our continual contact with our colleagues, our work, the newspapers, voices, traffic, 
our loved ones and even those we don't like -- all are daily nourishment for our 
senses and minds. We select what we find interesting, reject what we do not want to 

Every day, every citizen lives in many small worlds of exchange of gratifications, little 
hatreds, pleasant experiences, irritations, delights. And he needs these stimuli to 
keep him on the alert. Hour by hour, reality, in cooperation with our memory, 
integrates the millions of facts in our lives by repeating them over and over. 

As soon as man is alone, closed off from the world and from the news of what is 
going on, his mental activity is replaced by quite different processes. Long forgotten 
anxieties come to the surface, long-repressed memories knock on his mind from 
inside. His fantasy life begins to develop and assume gigantic proportions. He 
cannot evaluate or check his fantasies against the events of his ordinary days, and 
very soon they may take possession of them. 

I remember very clearly my own fantasies during the time I was in a Nazi prison. It 
was almost impossible for me to control my depressive thoughts of hopelessness. I 
had to tell myself over and over again: "Think, think. Keep your senses alert; don't 
give in." I tried to use all my psychiatric knowledge to keep my mind in a state of 
relaxed mobilization, and on many days I felt it was a losing battle. 

Some experiments have shown that people who are deprived, for even a very short 
time, of ALL sensory stimuli (no touch, no hearing, no smell, no sight) quickly fall into 
a kind of hallucinatory hypnotic state. Isolation from the multitude of impressions that 
normally bombard us from the outside world creates strange and frightening 
symptoms. According to Heron, who performed experiments on a group of students 
at McGill University by placing each student in his own pitch black, soundproof room, 
ventilated with filtered air, and encasing his hands in heavy leather mittens and his 
feet in heavy boots, "little by little their brains go dead or slip out of control." Even in 
twenty-four hours of such extreme sensual isolation, all the horror phantoms of 
childhood are awakened, and various pathological symptoms appear. Our instinct of 
curiosity demands continual feeding; if it is not satisfied, the internal hounds of hell 
are aroused. 

The prisoner kept in isolation, although his isolation is by no means as extreme as in 
the laboratory test, also undergoes a severe mental change. His guards and 
inquisitors become more and more his only source of contact with reality, with those 
stimuli he needs even more than bread. No wonder that he gradually develops a 
peculiar submissive relationship to them. He is affected not only by his isolation from 
social contacts, but by sexual starvation as well. 


The latent dependency needs that lie deep in all men make him willing to accept his 
guard as a substitute father figure. The inquisitor may be cruel and bestial, but the 
very fact that he acknowledges his victim's existence gives the prisoner a feeling that 
he has received some little bit of affection. What a conflict may thus arise between a 
man's traditional loyalties and these new ones! There are only a few personalities 
which are so completely self-sufficient that they can resist the need to yield, to find 
some human companionship, to overcome the unbearable loneliness. 

During the World Wars, prisoners at first suffered from a peculiar, burning 
homesickness already called barbed-wire disease. Memories of mother, home, and 
family made the soldiers identify with babyhood again, but as they became more 
used to prison-camp life, thoughts of home and family also created positive values 
and helped make the prison-camp life less harrowing. 

Even the prisoner who is not kept in isolation can feel lonely in the unorganized 
mass of prisoners. His fellow prisoners can become his enemies as easily as they 
can become his friends. His hatred of his guards can be displaced and turned 
against those imprisoned with him. Instead of suspecting the enemy, the victim may 
become suspicious of his companions in misery. 

In the Nazi concentration camps and the Korean P.O.W. camps, a kind of mass 
paranoia often developed. Loneliness was increased because the prisoners cut 
themselves off from one another through suspicion and hatred. This distrust was 
encouraged by the guards. They constantly suggested to their victims that nobody 
cared for them and nobody was concerned about what was happening to them. "You 
are alone. Your friends on the outside don't know whether you're alive or dead. Your 
fellow prisoners don't even care." Thus all expectation of a future was killed, and the 
resulting uncertainty and hopelessness became unbearable. Then the guards sowed 
suspicion and spread terrifying rumours: "You are here because those people you 
call your friends betrayed you." "Your buddies here have squealed on you." "Your 
friends on the outside have deserted you." Playing on a man's old loyalties, making 
him feel deserted and alone, force him into submission and collapse. 

The times that I myself wavered and entertained thoughts about joining the opposite 
forces always occurred after periods of extreme loneliness and deep-seated 
yearnings for companionship. At such moments the jailer or enemy may become a 
substitute friend. 


Blackmailing Through Overburdening Guilt Feelings 

Deep within all of us lie hidden feelings of guilt, unconscious guilt, which can be 
brought to the surface under extreme stress. The strategy of arousing guilt is the 
mother's oldest tool for gaining dominance over her children's souls. Her warning 
and accusing finger give her a magic power over them and help to create deep- 
seated guilt feelings which may continue all through their adult lives. When we are 
children, we depend on our parents and resent them for just this reason. We may 
harbour hidden destructive wishes against those closest to us, and feelings of guilt 
about these wishes. Buried deep in man's unconscious is the knowledge that he has 
had hostile fantasies, and that in his hostile fantasies he has felt himself capable of 
committing many crimes. 

Theodore Reik has drawn our attention to the unknown primitive murderer believed 
to be in all of us, whose compulsion to confess and to be punished may be easily 
provoked under circumstances of terror and depression. 

This concept of concealed hostility and destructiveness is often difficult for the 
layman to accept. But consider for a moment the popularity of the detective story. 
We may tell ourselves that we enjoy reading these tales because we identify with the 
keen and clever sleuth, but, as is clear from psychoanalytic experience, the 
repressed criminal in all of us is also at work and we also identify with the 
conscienceless killer. As a matter of fact, our repressed hostilities make the reading 
of hostile acts attractive to us. 

In the political sphere, the systematic exploitation of unconscious guilt to create 
submission is a utilization of the unconscious confession compulsion and the need 
for punishment. Continual purges and confessions, as we encounter them in the 
totalitarian countries, arouse deeply hidden guilt feelings. The lesser sin of rebellion 
or subversion has to be admitted to cover personal thoughts of crime which are more 
deeply imbedded. The personal reactions of those who are continually interrogated 
and investigated give us a clue as to what happens. 

The very fact of prolonged interrogation can re-arouse the hidden and unconscious 
guilt in the victim. At a time of extreme emotion, after constant accusation and day- 
long interrogation, when he has been deprived of sleep and reduced to a state of 
utter despair, the victim may lose the capacity to distinguish between the real 
criminal act of which he is accused and his own fantasised unconscious guilt. If his 
upbringing burdened him with an almost pathological sense of guilt under normal 
circumstances, he will be completely unable to resist the menticidal attack. 

Even normal people may be brought to surrender under such miserable conditions, 
and not only through the action of the inquisition, but also because of all the other 
weakening factors. Lack of sleep, hunger, and illness can create utter confusion and 
make any man vulnerable to hypnotic influence. All of us have experienced the 
mental fuzziness which comes with being overtired. Concentration-camp victims 
know how hunger, especially, induces a loss of mental control. 


In the fantastic world of the totalitarian prison or camp, these effects are heightened 
and exaggerated. 

(NOTE: The conversation in concentration camps usually revolved around food and 
memories of glorious gluttony. The mind could not work: it was fixed on eating and 
fantasies about food. A word grew up to express that constant possession by the 
idea of eating well again: stomach masturbation ("Magenonanie"). This kind of talk 
often took the place of all intellectual exchange.) 

The Nazis, through clever exploitation of their victims' unconscious guilt after poking 
into the back corners of their minds, were often able to convert courageous 
resistance fighters into meek collaborators. That they were not uniformly successful 
can be explained by two factors. The first is that MOST OF THE MEMBERS OF THE 
WHICH THEY WERE TREATED. The second is that, clever as the Nazi techniques 
were, they were not as irresistible as the methodical tricks of the Communist 
brainwashers are. 

When the victims of Nazi brutality did break down, it was not torture but often the 
threat of reprisal against family which made them give in. Sudden acute 
confrontation with a long-buried childhood problem creates confusion and doubt. All 
of a sudden the enemy puts before you a clash of loyalties: your father or your 
friends, your brother or your fatherland, your wife or your honor. This is a brutal 
choice to have to make, and when the inquisitor makes use of your additional inner 
conflicts, he can easily force you into surrender. 

A clash between loyalties makes either choice a betrayal, and this arouses 
paralyzing doubt. This calculated but subtle attack on the weakest spots in man's 
mind, on a man's conscience, and on the moral system he has learned from the 
Judaeo-Christian ethics, paralyzes the reason and leads the victim more easily into 
betrayal. The inquisitor subtly tests his victim's archaic guilt feelings toward paternal 
figures, his friends, his children. He cleverly exploits the victim's early ambivalent ties 
with his parents. The sudden outbreak of hidden moral flaws and guilt can bring a 
man to tears and complete breakdown. He regresses to the dependency and 
submissiveness of the baby. 

A very husky former hero of the Dutch resistance, known as King Kong because of 
his size and strength, became the treacherous instrument of the Nazis soon after his 
brother had been taken with him and the Nazis threatened to kill the youth. King 
Kong's final surrender to the enemy and his becoming their treacherous tool was 
psychiatrically recognizable as a defense mechanism against his deep guilt, arising 
from hidden feelings of aggression against his brother (Boeree.) 

Another example of breakdown is seen in the story of one young resistance fighter 
who, after the Nazis had threatened to torture his father, who was imprisoned with 
him, finally broke into childish tears and promised to tell them everything they wanted 
to know. After that he was taken back to his cell in order to be softened up after the 
following day. This was the routine of his interrogator. 


The inquisitors understood only too well the effectiveness of patient pursuit at 
repeated moments while intruding into a man's guilt feelings. Although both prisoners 
were liberated that night as a consequence of the Allied sweep through Belgium and 
the southwest part of Holland, the boy remained in his depression for a long time, 
tortured by his knowledge that he had nearly betrayed his best friends in the 
underground in order to save his father -- in spite of knowing, at the same time, that 
the promises of the enemy would not have protected his father. 


The Law of Survival Versus the Law of Loyalty 

The prisoners of war in Korea who gradually gave in to the systematic mental 
pressure of the enemy and collaborated in the production of materials that could be 
used for Communist propaganda - albeit tentatively and for only as long as they were 
in the orbit of the enemy - followed a peculiar psychological law of passive inner 
defense and inner deceit that when one cannot fight and defeat the enemy, one must 
join him. Later, a few of them were so taken in by totalitarian propaganda that they 
elected to remain in China and the totalitarian orbit. Some did it to escape 
punishment for having betrayed their comrades. 

Man cannot become a turncoat without justifying his actions to himself. When 
Holland surrendered to the German army in 1940, I saw this general mechanism of 
mental surrender operating in several people who had been staunch anti-Nazis. 
"Maybe there is something good in Nazism," they told themselves as they saw the 
tremendous show of German strength. Those who were the victims of their own 
initial mental surrender and need to justify things, who could not stop and say to 
themselves "Hold on here; think this out," became the traitors and collaborators. 
They were completely taken in by the enemy's show of strength. The same process 
of self-justification and justifying the enemy started in the P.O.W. camps. 

Experiences from the concentration camps give us some indication of how far this 
passive submission to the enemy can go. Because of the deep-seated human need 
for affection, many prisoners lived only for one thing: a friendly word from their 
guards. Each time it came, it fortified the delusion of grace and acceptance. Once 
these prisoners, mostly those who had been in the camps a long time, were 
accepted by the guards, they easily became the trusted tools of the Nazis. They 
started to behave like their cruel jailers and became torturers of their fellow campers. 
These collaborating prisoners, called "Kapos," were even more cruel and vengeful 
than the official overseers. Because of misunderstood inner needs, the brainwasher 
and sadistic camp leader are direly in need of collaborators. They serve not only for 
the propaganda machine but also to exonerate their jailers from guilt. 

When a man has to choose either hunger, death marches, and torture or a 
temporary yielding to the illusions of the enemy, his self-preservation mechanisms 
act in many ways like reflexes. They help him to find a thousand justifications and 
exculpations for giving in to the psychological pressure. 

One of the officers court-marshalled for collaborating with the enemy in a Korean 
P.O.W. camp justified his conduct by saying that he followed this course of action in 
order to keep himself and his men alive. Is that not a perfectly valid, though not 
necessarily true, argument? 

The use of it serves to point up the fact that self-protective mechanisms are usually 
much stronger than ideological loyalty. No one who has not faced this same bitter 
problem can have an objective opinion as to what he himself would do under the 
circumstances. As a psychiatrist, I suggest that "most" people would yield and 
compromise when threat and mental pressure became strong enough. 


Among the anti-Nazi undergrounds in the Second World War were physically strong 
boys who thought they could resist all pressure and would never betray their 
comrades. However, they could not even begin to imagine the perfidious technique 
of menticide. Repeated pestering, itself, is more destructive than physical torture. 
The pain of physical torture, as we have said, brings temporary unconsciousness 
and, consequently, forgetful ness, but when the victim wakes up, the play of 
anticipation begins. "Will it happen again? Can I stand it any more?" Anticipation 
paralyzes the will. Suicidal thoughts and identifications with death do not help. The 
foe doesn't let you die but drags you back from the very edge of oblivion. The 
anticipation of renewed torture increases internal anxieties. "Who am I to stand all 
this?" "Why must I be a hero?" Gradually resistance breaks down. 

The surrender of the mind to its new master does not take place immediately under 
the impact of duress and exhaustion. The inquisitor knows that in the period of 
temporary relaxation of pressure, during which the victim will rehearse and repeat 
the torture experience in himself, the final surrender is prepared. During that tension 
of rumination and anticipation, the deeply hidden wish to give in grows. The action of 
continual repetition of stupid questions, reiterated for days and days, exhausts the 
mind till it gives the answers the inquisitor wants to have. 

In addition to the weapon of mental exhaustion, he plays on the physical exhaustion 
of the senses. He may use penetrating, excruciating noises or a constant strong 
flashlight that blinds the eyes. The need to close the eyes or to get away from the 
noises confuses the mental orientation of the victim. He loses his balance and 
feelings of self-confidence. He yearns for sleep and can do nothing else but 
surrender. The infantile desire to become part of the threatening giant machine, to 
become one with the forces that are so much stronger than the prisoner has won. 
It is an unequivocal surrender: "Do with me what you want. From now on I am you." 

That only deprivation from sleep is able to produce various abnormal reactions of the 
mind was confirmed by Tyler in an experiment with 350 male volunteers. He 
deprived them of sleep for 102 hours. Forty-four men dropped out almost at once 
because they felt too anxious and irritated. After forty hours without sleep, 70 percent 
of all subjects had already had illusions, delusions, hallucinations, and similar 
experiences. Those who had true hallucinations were dropped from the experiment. 
After the second night, sporadic disturbances of thinking were common to all 
subjects. The participants were embarrassed when they were informed later of their 

The changes in emotional response had been noticeable - euphoria followed by 
depression; dejection and restlessness; indifference to unusual behaviour shown by 
other subjects. The experiment gave the impression that prolonged wakefulness 
causes some toxic substance to affect brain and mind. 

Only the few strong, independent, and self-sufficient personalities, who have 
conquered their dependency needs, can stand such pressure or are willing to die 
under it. 


The ritual of self-accusation and breast-beating and unconditional surrender to the 
rules of the elders is part of age-old religious rites. It was based on a more or less 
unconscious belief in a supreme and omnipotent power. This power may be the 
monolithic party state or a mysterious deity. It follows the old inner device of "Credo 
quia absurdum" ("I believe because it is absurd"), of faithful submission to a super- 
world stronger than the reality which confronts our senses. 

Why the totalitarian and orthodox dogmatic ideology sticks to such a rigid attitude, 
with prohibition of investigation of basic premises, is a complicated psychological 
question. Somewhere the reason is related to the fear of change, the fear of the risk 
of change of habits, the fear of freedom, which may be psychologically related to the 
fear of the finality of death. 

The denial of human freedom and equality lifts the authoritarian man beyond his 
mortal fellows. His temporary power and omnipotence give him the illusion of 
eternity. In his totalitarianism he denies death and ephemeral existence and borrows 
power from the future. He has to invent and formulate a final Truth and protective 
dogma to justify his battle against mortality and temporariness. From then on, the 
new fundamental certainty must be hammered into the minds of adepts and slaves. 
What happens inside the human psyche under severe circumstances of mental and 
physical attack is clarified for us in the studies of the general mental defences 
available to man; earlier, I myself tried in several publications to analyze the various 
ways people defend themselves against fear and pressure. 

In the last phases of brainwashing and menticide, the self-humiliating submission of 
the victims serves as an inner defensive device annihilating the prosecuting 
inquisitor in a magic way. The more they accuse themselves, the less logical reason 
there is for HIS existence. Giving in and being even more cruel toward oneself 
makes the inquisitor and judge, as it were, impotent and shows the futility of the 
accusing regime. 

We may say that brainwashing and menticide provoke the same inner defensive 
mechanism that we observe in melancholic patients. Through their mental self 
beatings, they try to get rid of fear and to avoid a more deeply seated guilt. They 
punish themselves in advance in order to overcome the idea of final punishment for 
some hidden, unknown, and worse crime. The victim of menticide conquers his 
tormentor by becoming even more cruel toward himself than the inquisitor. In this 
passive way, he annihilates his enemy. 


The Mysterious Masochistic Pact 

In Arthur Koestler's masterpiece, DARKNESS AT NOON, he describes all the subtle 
intricacies, reasonings, and dialectics between the inquisitor and his victim. The old 
Bolshevik, Rubashov, preconditioned by his former party adherence, confesses to 
plotting against the party and the party line. He is partly motivated by the wish to 
render a last service: his confession is a final sacrifice to the party. I would explain 
the confession rather as part of that mysterious masochistic pact between the 
inquisitor and his victim which we encounter, too, in other processes of 

(NOTE: The term "masochism" originally referred to sexual gratification received 
from pain and punishment, and later became every gratification acquired through 
pain and abjection.) 

It is the last gift and trick the tortured gives to his torturer. It is as if he were to call 
out: "Be good to me. I confess. I submit. Be good to me and love me." After having 
suffered all manner of brutality, hypnotism, despair, and panic, there is a final quest 
for human companionship, but it is ambivalent, mixed with deep despising, hatred, 
and bitterness. 

Tortured and torturer gradually form a peculiar community in which the one 
influences the other. Just as in therapeutic sessions where the patient identifies with 
the psychiatrist, the daily sessions of interrogation and conversation create an 
unconscious transfer of feelings in which the prisoner identifies with his inquisitors, 
and his inquisitors with him. The prisoner, enraptured in a strange, harsh, and 
unfamiliar world, identifies much more with the enemy than does the enemy with 
him. Unwittingly he may take over all the enemy's norms, evaluations, and attitudes 
toward life. Such passive surrender to the enemy's ideology is determined by 
unconscious processes. The danger of communion of this kind is that at the end all 
moral evaluations disappear. We saw it happen in Germany. The very victims of 
Nazism came to accept the idea of concentration camps. 

In menticide we are faced with a ritual like that found in witch hunting during the 
Middle Ages, except that today the ritual has taken a more refined form. Accuser and 
accused -- each affords the other assistance, and both belong together as 
collaborating members of a ritual of confession and self-denigration. Through their 
cooperation, they attack the minds of bystanders who identify with them and who 
consequently feel guilty, weak, and submissive. The Moscow purge trials made 
many Russians feel guilty; listening to the confessions, they must have said to 
themselves, "I could have done the same thing. I could have been in that man's 
place." When their heroes become traitors, their own hidden treasonable wishes 
made them feel weak and frightened. 

This explanation may seem overly complicated and involved and perhaps even self- 
contradictory, but, in fact, it helps us to understand what happens in cases of 
menticide. Both torturer and tortured are the victims of their own unconscious guilt. 


The torturer projects his guilt onto some outside scapegoat and tries to expiate it by 
attacking his victim. The victim, too, has a sense of guilt which arises from deeply 
repressed hostilities. Under normal circumstances, this sense is kept under control, 
but in the menticidal atmosphere of relentless interrogation and inquisition, his 
repressed hostilities are aroused and loom up as frightening phantasmagorias from a 
forgotten past, which the victim senses but cannot grasp or understand. It is easier to 
confess to the accusation of treason and sabotage than to accept the frightening 
sense of criminality with which his long-forgotten aggressive impulses now burden 

The victim's overt self-accusation serves as a trick to annihilate the inner accuser 
and the persecuting inquisitor. The more I accuse myself, the less reason there is for 
the inquisitor's existence. The victim's going to the gallows kills, as it were, the 
inquisitor too, because there existed a mutual identification: the accuser is made 
impotent the moment the victim begins to accuse himself and tomorrow the accuser 
himself may be accused and brought to the gallows. 

Out of our understanding of this strange masochistic pact between accuser and 
accused comes a rather simple answer to the questions, WHY DO PEOPLE WANT 
AND YIELD? It is because there is no essential difference between the victim and 
the inquisitor. They are alike. Neither, under these circumstances, has any control 
over his deeply hidden criminal and hostile thoughts and feelings. 

It is obviously easier to be the inquisitor than the victim, not only because the 
inquisitor may be temporarily safe from mental and physical destruction, but also 
because it is simpler to punish others for what we feel as criminal in ourselves than it 
is to face up to our own hidden sense of guilt. Committing menticide is the lesser 
crime of aggression, which covers up the deeper crime of unresolved hidden hatred 
and destruction. 


A Survey of Psychological Processes involved in 
Brainwashing and Menticide 

At the end of this chapter describing the various influences that lead to yielding and 
surrender to the enemy's strategy, it is useful to give a short survey of the 
psychological processes involved. 


The inquisitor tries to weaken the ego of his prisoner. Though originally physical 
torture was used -- hunger and cold are still very effective -- physical torture may 
often increase a person's stubbornness. Torture is intended to a much greater extent 
to act as a threat to the bystanders' (the people's) imagination. Their wild anticipation 
of torture leads more easily to THEIR breakdown when the enemy has need of their 
weakness. (Of course, occasionally a sadistic enemy may find individual pleasure in 

The many devices the enemy makes use of include: intimidating suggestion, 
dramatic persuasion, mass suggestion, humiliation, embarrassment, loneliness and 
isolation, continued interrogation, over-burdening the unsteady mind, arousing more 
and more self-pity. Patience and time help the inquisitor to soften a stubborn soul. 
Just as in many old religions the victims were humbled and humiliated in order to 
prepare for the new religion, so, in this case, they are prepared to accept the 
totalitarian ideology. In this phase, out of mere intellectual opportunism, the victim 
may consciously give in. 



As has already been mentioned, the moment of surrender may often arrive suddenly. 
It is as if the stubborn negative suggestibility changed critically into a surrender and 
affirmation. What the inquisitor calls the sudden inner illumination and conversion is 
a total reversal of inner strategy in the victim. From this time on, in psychoanalytic 
terms, a parasitic superego lives in man's conscience, and he will speak his new 
master's voice. In my experience such sudden surrender often occurred together 
with hysterical outbursts into crying and laughing, like a baby surrendering after 
obstinate temper tantrums. The inquisitor can attain this phase more easily by 
assuming a paternal attitude. As a matter of fact, many a P.O.W. was courted by a 
form of paternal kindness - gifts, sweets at birthdays, and the promise of more 
cheerful things to come. 


Maloney compares this sudden yielding with the theophany or kenosis (internal 
conversion) as described by some theological rites. For our understanding, it is 
important to stress that yielding is an unconscious and purely emotional process, no 
longer under the conscious intellectual control of the brainwashee. We may also call 
this phase the phase of autohypnosis. 


Through both continual training and taming, the new phonograph record has to be 
grooved. We may compare this process with an active hypnosis into conversion. 
Incidental relapses to the old form of thinking have to be corrected as in Phase I. The 
victim is daily helped to rationalize and justify his new ideology. The inquisitor 
delivers to him the new arguments and reasonings. 

This systematic indoctrination of those who long avoided intensive indoctrination 
constitutes the actual political aspect of brainwashing and symbolizes the ideological 
cold war going on at this very moment. 


As soon as the brainwashee returns to a free atmosphere, the hypnotic spell is 
broken. Temporary nervous repercussions take place, like crying spells, feelings of 
guilt and depression. The expectation of a hostile homeland, in view of his having 
yielded to enemy indoctrination, may fortify this reaction. The period of brainwashing 
becomes a nightmare. Only those who were staunch members of the resistance 
before may stick to it. But here, too, I have seen the enemy impose its mental 
pressure too well and convert their former prisoners into eternal haters of freedom. 



The purpose of the second part of this book is to show various aspects of political 
and non-political strategy used to change the feelings and thoughts of the masses, 
starting with simple advertising and propaganda, then surveying psychological 
warfare and actual cold war, and going on to examine the means used for internal 
streamlining of man's thoughts and behaviour. Part Two ends with an intricate 
examination of how one of the tools of emotional fascination and attack -- the 
weapon of fear -- is used and what reactions it arouses in men. 


Only blind wishful thinking can permit us to believe that our own society is free from 
the insidious influences mentioned in Part One. The fact is that they exist all around 
us, both on a political and a non-political level and they become as dangerous to the 
free way of life as are the aggressive totalitarian governments themselves. 

Every culture institutionalizes certain forms of behaviour that communicate and 
encourage certain forms of thinking and acting, thus moulding the character of its 
citizens. To the degree that the individual is made an object of constant mental 
manipulation, to the degree that cultural institutions may tend to weaken intellectual 
and spiritual strength, to the degree that knowledge of the mind is used to tame and 
condition people instead of educating them, to that degree does the culture itself 
produce men and women who are predisposed to accept an authoritarian way of life. 
The man who has no mind of his own can easily become the pawn of a would-be 

It is often disturbing to see how even intelligent people do not have straight thinking 
minds of their own. The pattern of the mind, whether toward conformity and 
compliance or otherwise, is conditioned rather early in life. 

In his important social psychological experiments with students, Asch found out in 
simple tests that there was a yielding toward an ERRING MAJORITY opinion in 
more than a third of his test persons, and 75 percent of subjects experimented upon 
agreed with the majority in varying degrees. In many persons the weight of authority 
is more important than the quality of the authority. 

If we are to learn to protect our mental integrity on all levels, we must examine not 
only those aspects of contemporary culture which have to do directly with the 
struggle for power, but also those developments in our culture which, by dulling the 
edge of our mental awareness or by taking advantage of our suggestibility, can lead 
us into the mental death - or boredom - of totalitarianism. 


Continual suggestion and slow hypnosis in the wake of mechanical mass 
communication promotes uniformity of the mind and may lure the public into the 
"happy era" of adjustment, integration, and equalization, in which individual opinion 
is completely stereotyped. 

When I get up in the morning, I turn on my radio to hear the news and the weather 
forecast. Then comes the pontifical voice telling me to take aspirin for my headache. 
I have "headaches" occasionally (so does the world), and my headaches, like 
everyone else's, come from the many conflicts that life imposes on me. My radio tells 
me not to think about either the conflicts or the headaches. It suggests, instead, that 
I should retreat into that old magic action of swallowing a pill. Although I laugh as I 
listen to this long-distance prescription by a broadcaster who does not know anything 
about me or my headaches and though I meditate for a moment on man's servility to 
the magic of chemistry, my hand has already begun to reach out for the aspirin 
bottle. After all, I do have a headache. 

It is extremely difficult to escape the mechanically repeated suggestions of everyday 
life. Even when our critical mind rejects them, they seduce us into doing what our 
intellect tells us is stupid. 

The mechanization of modern life has already influenced man to become more 
passive and to adjust himself to ready-made conformity. No longer does man think in 
personal values, following more his own conscience and ethical evaluations; he 
thinks more and more in the values brought to him by mass media. Headlines in the 
morning paper give him his temporary political outlook, the radio blasts suggestions 
into his ears, television keeps him in continual awe and passive fixation. Consciously 
he may protest against these anonymous voices, but nevertheless their suggestions 
ooze into his system. 

What is perhaps most shocking about these influences is that many of them have 
developed not out of man's destructiveness, but out of his hope to improve his world 
and to make life richer and deeper. The very institutions man has created to help 
himself, the very tools he has invented to enhance his life, the very progress he has 
made toward mastery of himself and his environment - all can become weapons of 


The Public-Opinion Engineers 

The conviction is steadily growing in our country that an elaborate propaganda 
campaign for either a political idea or a deep-freeze can be successful in selling the 
public any idea or object one wants them to buy, any political figure one wants them 
to elect. Recently, some of our election campaigns have been masterminded by the 
so-called public-opinion engineers, who have used all the techniques of modern 
mass communication and all the contemporary knowledge of the human mind to 
persuade Americans to vote for the candidate who is paying the public-relation men's 
salaries. The danger of such high-pressure advertising is that the man or the party 
who can pay the most can become, temporarily at least, the one who can influence 
the people to buy or to vote for what may not be in their real interest. 

The specialists in the art of persuasion and the moulding of public sentiment may try 
to knead man's mental dough with all the tools of communication available to them: 
pamphlets, speeches, posters, billboards, radio programs, and T.V. shows. They 
may water down the spontaneity and creativity of thoughts and ideas into sterile and 
streamlined cliches that direct our thoughts even although we still have the illusion of 
being original and individual. 

What we call the will of the people, or the will of the masses, we only get to know 
after such collective action is put on the move, after the will of the people has been 
expressed either at the polls or in fury and rebellion. This indicates again how 
important it is who directs the tools and machines of public opinion. 

In the wake of such advertising and engineering of consent, the citizen's trust in his 
leaders may become shaken and the populace may gradually grow more and more 
accustomed to official deceit. Finally, when people no longer have confidence in any 
program, any position, and when they are unable to form intelligent judgments any 
more, they can be more easily influenced by any demagogue or would-be dictator, 
whose strength appeals to their confusion and their growing sense of dissatisfaction. 
Perhaps the worst aspect of this slick merchandising of ideas is that too often even 
those who buy the experts, and even the opinion experts themselves, are unaware 
of what they are doing. They too are swayed by the current catchword "management 
of public opinion," and they cannot judge any more the tools they have hired. The 
end never justifies the means; enough steps on this road can lead us gradually to 

At this very moment in our country, an elaborate research into motivation is going on, 
whose object is to find out why and what the buyer likes to buy. What makes him 
tick? The aim is to bypass the resistance barriers of the buying public. It is part of our 
paradoxical cultural philosophy to stimulate human needs and to stimulate the wants 
of the people. Commercialized psychological understanding wants to sell to the 
public, to the potential buyer, many more products than he really wants to buy. In 
order to do this, rather infantile impulses have to be awakened, such as sibling 
rivalry and neighbour envy, the need to have more and more sweets, the glamour of 
colors, and the need for more and more luxuries. 


The commercial psychologist teaches the seller how to avoid unpleasant 
associations in his advertising, how to stimulate, unobtrusively, sex associations, 
how to make everything look simple and happy and successful and secure! He 
teaches the shops how to boost the buyer's ego, how to flatter the customer. 

The marketing engineers have discovered that our public wants the suggestion of 
strength and virility in their product. A car must have more horse-power in order to 
balance feelings of inner weakness in the owner. A car must represent one's social 
status and reputation, because without such a flag man feels empty. Advertising 
agencies dream of "universitas advertensis," the world of glittering sham ideas, the 
glorification of "menus vult decipi," the intensification of snob appeal, the expression 
of vulgar conspicuousness, and all this in order to push more sales into the greedy 
mouths of buying babies. In our world of advertising, artificial needs are invented by 
sedulous sellers and buyers. Here lies the threat of building up a sham world that 
can have a dangerous influence on our world of ideas. 

This situation emphasizes the neurotic greed of the public, the need to indulge in 
private fancies at the cost of an awareness of real values. The public becomes 
conditioned to meretricious values. Of course, a free public gradually finds its 
defences against slogans, but dishonesty and mistrust slip through the barriers of 
our consciousness and leave behind a gnawing feeling of dissatisfaction. After all, 
advertising symbolizes the art of making people dissatisfied with what they have. In 
the meantime it is evident man sustains a continual sneak attack on his better 

In our epoch of too many noises and many frustrations, many "free" minds have 
given up the struggle for decency and individuality. They surrender to the "Zeitgeist," 
often without being aware of it. Public opinion moulds our critical thoughts every day. 
Unknowingly, we may become opinionated robots. The slow coercion of hypocrisy, 
of traditions in our culture that have a levelling effect -- these things change us. We 
crave excitement, hair-raising stories, sensation. We search for situations that create 
superficial fear to cover up inner anxieties. We like to escape into the irrational 
because we dislike the challenge of self-study and self-thinking. Our leisure time is 
occupied increasingly by automatized activities in which we take no part: listening to 
piped-in words and viewing television screens. We hurry along with cars and go to 
bed with a sleeping pill. This pattern of living in turn may open the way for renewed 
sneak attacks on our mind. Our boredom may welcome any seductive suggestion. 


Psychological Warfare as a Weapon of Terror 

Every human communication can be either a report of straight facts or an attempt to 
suggest things and situations as they do not exist. Such distortion and perversion of 
facts strike at the core of human communication. The verbal battle against man's 
concept of truth and against his mind seems to be ceaseless. For example, if I can 
instil in eventual future enemies fear and terror and the suggestion of impending 
defeat, even before they are willing to fight, my battle is already half won. 

The strategy of man to use a frightening mask and a loud voice to utter lies in order 
to manipulate friend and foe is as old as mankind. Primitive people used terror- 
provoking masks, magic fascination, or self-deceit as much as we use loudly spoken 
words to convince others or ourselves. They use their magic paints and we our 
ideologies. Truly, we live in an age of ads, propaganda, and publicity. But only under 
dictatorial and totalitarian regimes have such human habit formations mushroomed 
into systematic psychological assault on mankind. 

The weapons the dictator uses against his own people, he may use against the 
outside world as well. For example, the false confessions that divert the minds of 
dictator's subjects from their own real problems have still another effect: they are 
meant (and sometimes they succeed in their aim) to terrorize the world's public. By 
strengthening the myth of the dictator's omnipotence, such confessions weaken 
man's will to resist him. If a period of peace can be used to soften up a future enemy, 
the totalitarian armies may be able in time of war to win a cheap and easy victory. 
Totalitarian psychological warfare is directed largely toward this end. It is an effort to 
propagandize and hypnotize the world into submission. 

As far back as the early nineteenth century, Napoleon organized his Bureau de 
I'Opinion Publique in order to influence the thinking of the French people. But it fell to 
the Germans to develop the manipulation of public opinion into a huge, well 
organized machine. Their psychological warfare became aggressive strategy in 
peacetime, the so-called war between wars. It was as a result of the Nazi attack on 
European morale and the Nazi war of nerves against their neighbours that the other 
nations of the world began to organize their own psychological forces, but it was only 
in the second half of the war that they were able to achieve some measure of 
success. The Germans had a long head start. 

Hitler's psychological artillery was composed primarily of the weapon of fear. He had, 
for example, a network of fifth columnists whose main job was to sow rumours and 
suspicions among the citizens of the countries against which he eventually planned 
to fight. The people were upset not only by the spy system itself, but by the very 
rumour of spies. These fifth columnists spread slogans of defeat and political 
confusion: "Why should France die for England?" Fear began to direct people's 
actions. Instead of facing the real threat of German invasion, instead of preparing for 
it, all of Europe shuddered at spy stories, discussed irrelevant problems, argued 
endlessly about scapegoats and minorities. Thus Hitler used the rampant, vague 
fears to becloud the real issues, and by attacking his enemies' will to fight, weakened 


Not content with this strategic attack on the will to defend oneself, Hitler tried to 
paralyze Europe with the threat of terror, not only the threat of bombing, destruction, 
and occupation, but also the psychological threat implicit in his own boast of 
ruthlessness. The fear of an implacable foe makes man more willing to submit even 
before he has begun to fight. Hitler's criminal acts at home -- the concentration 
camps, the gas chambers, the mass murders, the atmosphere of terror throughout 
Germany - were as useful in the service of his fear-instilling propaganda machinery 
as they were a part of his delusions. 

There is another important weapon the totalitarians use in their campaign to frighten 
the world into submission. This is the weapon of psychological shock. Hitler kept his 
enemies in a state of constant confusion and diplomatic upheaval. They never knew 
what this unpredictable madman was going to do next. Hitler was never logical, 
because he knew that that was what he was expected to be. Logic can be met with 
logic, while illogic cannot - it confuses those who think straight. The Big Lie and 
monotonously repeated nonsense have more emotional appeal in a cold war than 
logic and reason. While the enemy is still searching for a reasonable counter- 
argument to the first lie, the totalitarians can assault him with another. 

Strategic mental shocks were the instruments the Nazis used when they entered the 
Rhineland in 1936 and when they concluded their nonaggression pact with Russia in 
1939. Stalin used the same strategy at the time of the Korean invasion in 1950 
(which he directed), as did the Chinese and the North Koreans when they accused 
the United States of bacteriological warfare. By acting in this apparently irrational 
way, the totalitarians throw their logic-minded enemies into confusion. The enemy 
feels compelled to deny the propagandistic lies or to explain things as they really are, 
and these actions immediately put him in the weaker defensive position. For the 
galloping lie can never be overtaken, it can only be overthrown. 

The technique of psychological shock has still another effect. It may so confuse the 
mind of the individual citizen that he ceases to make his own evaluations and begins 
to lean passively on the opinions of others. Hitler's destruction of Warsaw and 
Rotterdam - after the armistice in 1940, a complete violation of international law - 
immobilized France and shook the other democratic nations. Being in a paralysis of 
moral indignation, they became psychologically ill-equipped to deal with the Nazi 

Just as the technological advances of the modern world have refined and perfected 
the weapons of physical warfare, so the advance in man's understanding of the 
manipulation of public opinion have enabled him to refine and perfect the weapons of 
psychological warfare. 


The Indoctrination Barrage 

The continual intrusion into our minds of the hammering noises of arguments and 
propaganda can lead to two kinds of reactions. It may lead to apathy and 
indifference, the l-don't-care reaction, or to a more intensified desire to study and to 
understand. Unfortunately, the first reaction is the more popular one. The flight from 
study and awareness is much too common in a world that throws too many 
confusing pictures to the individual. For the sake of our democracy, based on 
freedom and individualism, we have to bring ourselves back to study again and 
again. Otherwise, we can become easy victims of a well-planned verbal attack on 
our minds and consciences. 

We cannot be enough aware of the continual coercion of our senses and minds, the 
continual suggestive attacks which may pass through the intellectual barriers of 
insight. Repetition and Pavlovian conditioning exhaust the individual and may 
seduce him ultimately to accept a truth he himself initially defied and scorned. 

The totalitarians are very ingenious in arousing latent guilt in us by repeating over 
and over again how criminally the Western world has acted toward innocent and 
peaceful people. The totalitarians may attack our identification with our leaders by 
ridiculing them, making use of every man's latent critical attitude toward all leaders. 
Sometimes they use the strategy of boredom to lull the people to sleep. They would 
like the entire Western world to fall into a hypnotic sleep under the illusion of 
peaceful coexistence. In a more refined strategy, they would like to have us cut all 
our ties of loyalty with the past, away from relatives and parents. The more you have 
forsaken them and their so-called outmoded concepts, the better you will cooperate 
with those who want to take mental possession of you. Every political strategy that 
aims toward arousing fear and suspicion tends to isolate the insecure individual until 
he surrenders to those forces that seem to him stronger than his former friends. 

And last but not least, let us not forget that in the battle of arguments those with the 
best and most forceful strategy tend to win. The totalitarians organize intensive 
dialectical training for their subjects lest their doubts get the better of them. They try 
to do the same thing to the rest of the world in a less obtrusive way. 

We have to learn to encounter the totalitarians' exhausting barrage of words with 
better training and better understanding. If we try to escape from these problems of 
mental defense or deny their complications, the cold war will gradually be lost to the 
slow encroachment of words - and more words. 


The Enigma of Coexistence 

Is it possible to coexist with a totalitarian system that never ceases to use its 
psychological artillery? Can a free democracy be strong enough to tolerate the 
parasitic intrusion of totalitarianism into its rights and freedoms? History tells us that 
many opposing and clashing ideologies have been able to coexist under a common 
law that assured tolerance and justice. The church no longer burns its apostates. 

Before the opposites of totalitarianism and free democracy can coexist under the 
umbrella of supervising law and mutual good will, a great deal more of mutual 
understanding and tolerance will have to be built up. The actual cold war and 
psychological warfare certainly do not yet help toward this end. 

To the totalitarian, the word "coexistence" has a different meaning than it has to us. 
The totalitarian may use it merely as a catch-word or an appeaser. The danger is 
that the concept of peaceful coexistence may become a disguise, dulling the 
awareness of inevitable interactions and so profiting the psychologically stronger 
party. Lenin spoke about the strategic breathing spell (peredyshka) that has to 
weaken the enemy. Too enthusiastic a peace movement may mean a superficial 
appeasement of problems. Such an appeal has to be studied and restudied, lest it 
result in a dangerous letdown of defences which have to remain mobilized to face a 
ruthless enemy. 

Coexistence may mean a suffocating subordination much like that of prisoners 
coexisting with their jailers. At its best, it may imitate the intensive symbiotic or ever- 
parasitic relationship we can see among animals which need each other, or as we 
see it in the infant in its years of dependency upon its mother. 

In order to coexist and to cooperate, one must have notions and comparable images 
of interaction, of a sameness of ideas, of a belonging-together, of an 
interdependence of the whole human race, in spite of the existence of racial and 
cultural differences. Otherwise the ideology backed by the greater military strength 
will strangle the weaker one. 

Peaceful coexistence presupposes on BOTH sides a high understanding of the 
problems and complications of simple coexistence, of mutual agreement and 
limitations, of the diversity of personalities, and especially of the coexistence of 
contrasting and irreconcilable thoughts and feelings in every individual of the innate 
ambivalence of man. It demands an understanding of the rights of both the individual 
and the collectivity. Using coexistence as a catch-word, we may obscure the 
problems involved, and we may find that we use the word as a flag that covers 
gradual surrender to the stronger strategist. 



There actually exists such a thing as a technique of mass brainwashing. This 
technique can take root in a country if an inquisitor is strong and shrewd enough. He 
can make most of us his victims, albeit temporarily. 

What in the structure of society has made man so vulnerable to these mass 
manipulations of the mind? This is a problem with tremendous implications, just as 
brainwashing is. In recent years we have grown more and more aware of human 
interdependence with all its difficulties and complications. 

I am aware of the fact that investigation of the subject of mental coercion and 
thought control becomes less pleasant as time goes on. This is so because it may 
become more of a threat to us here and now, and our concern for China and Korea 
must yield to the more immediate needs at our own door. Can totalitarian tendencies 
take over here, and what social symptoms may lead to such phenomena? Stern 
reality confronts us with the universal mental battle between thought control (and its 
corollaries) and our standards of decency, personal strength, personal ideas, and a 
personal conscience with autonomy and dignity. 

Future social scientists will be better able to describe the causes of the advent of 
totalitarian thinking and acting in man. We know that after wars and revolutions this 
mental deterioration more easily finds an opportunity to develop, helped by special 
psychopathic personalities who flourish on man's misery and confusion. It is also true 
that the next generation spontaneously begins to correct the misdeeds of the 
previous one because the ruthless system has become too threatening to them. 

My task, however, is to describe some symptoms of the totalitarian process (which 
implies deterioration of thinking and acting) as I have observed them in our own 
epoch, keeping in mind that the system is one of the most violent distortions of man's 
consistent mental growth. No brainwashing is possible without totalitarian thinking. 
The tragic facts of political experiences in our age make it all too clear that applied 
psychological technique can brainwash entire nations and reduce their citizens to a 
kind of mindless robotism which becomes for them a normal way of living. Perhaps 
we can best understand how this frightening thing comes about by examining a 
mythical country, which, for the sake of convenience, we shall call Totalitaria. 


The Robotization of Man 

First, let me utter a word of caution. We must not make the mistake of thinking that 
there is any one particular nation that can be completely identified with this 
hypothetical land. The characteristics to be discussed can come into existence here. 
Some of Totalitaria's characteristics were, of course, present in Nazi Germany, and 
they can today be found behind the Iron Curtain, but they exist to some extent in 
other parts of the world as well. Totalitaria is any country in which political ideas 
degenerate into senseless formulations made only for propaganda purposes. It is 
any country in which a single group - left or right - acquires absolute power and 
becomes omniscient and omnipotent, any country in which disagreement and 
differences of opinion are crimes, in which utter conformity is the price of life. 

Totalitaria - the Leviathan state - is the home of the political system we call, 
euphemistically, totalitarianism, of which systematized tyranny is a part. This system 
does not derive from any honest political philosophy, either socialist or capitalist. 
Totalitaria's leaders may mouth ideologies, but these are in fact mainly catch-words 
used to justify the regime. If necessary, totalitarianism can change its slogans and its 
behaviour overnight. For totalitarianism embodies, to me, the quest for total power, 
the quest of a dictator to rule the world. The words and concepts of "socialism" and 
"communism" may serve, like "democracy," as a disguise for the megalomaniac 
intention of the tyrant. 

Since totalitarianism is essentially the social manifestation of a psychological 
phenomenon belonging to every personality, it can best be understood in terms of 
the human forces that create, foster, and perpetuate it. Man has two faces; he wants 
to grow toward maturity and freedom, and yet the primitive child in his unconscious 
yearns for more complete protection and irresponsibility. His mature self learns how 
to cope with the restrictions and frustrations of daily life, but at the same time, the 
child in him longs to hit out against them, to beat them down, to destroy them - 
whether they be objects or people. 

Totalitarianism appeals to this confused infant in all of us; it seems to offer a solution 
to the problems man's double yearning creates. Our mythical Totalitaria is a 
monolithic and absolute state in which doubt, confusion, and conflict are not 
permitted to be shown, for the dictator purports to solve all his subjects' problems for 
them. In addition, Totalitaria can provide official sanction for the expression of man's 
most antisocial impulses. The uncivilized child hidden in us may welcome this 
liberation from ethical frustration. 

On the other hand, our free, mature, social selves cannot be happy in Totalitaria; 
they revolt against the restriction of individual impulses. 

The psychological roots of totalitarianism are usually irrational, destructive, and 
primitive, though disguised behind some ideology, and for this reason there is 
something fantastic, unbelievable, even nightmarish about the system itself. There 
is, of course, a difference in the psychic experience of the elite, who can live out their 
needs for power, and the masses, who have to submit; yet the two groups influence 
each other. 


When a dictator's deep neurotic needs for power also satisfy some profound 
emotional need in the population of his country, especially in times of misery or after 
a revolution, he is more easily able to assume the power for which he longs. If a 
nation has suffered defeat in war, for example, its citizens feel shame and 
resentment. Loss of face is not simply a political abstraction, it is a very real and 
personal thing to a conquered people. Every man, consciously or unconsciously, 
identifies with his native land. If a country suffers from prolonged famine or severe 
depression, its citizens become bitter, depressed, and resentful, and will more 
willingly accept the visions and promises of the aspiring dictator. 

If the complexity of a country's political and economic apparatus makes the individual 
citizen feel powerless, confused, and useless, if he has no sense of participation in 
the forces that govern his daily life, or if he feels these forces to be so vast and 
confusing that he can no longer understand them, he will grasp at the totalitarian 
opportunity for belonging, for participation, for a simple formula that explains and 
rationalizes what is beyond his comprehension. And when the dictator has taken 
over finally, he transfers his own abnormal fantasies, his rage and anger, easily to 
his subjects. Their resentments feed his; his pseudo-strength encourages them. A 
mutual fortification of illusions takes place. 

Totalitarianism as a social manifestation is a disease of inter-human relations, and, 
like any other disease, man can best resist its corroding effects if, through 
knowledge and training, he is well immunized against it. If, however, he is 
unfortunate enough to catch the totalitarian bug, he has to muster all the positive 
forces in his mind to defeat it. The raging internal struggle between the irresponsible 
child and the mature adult in him continues until one or the other is finally destroyed 
completely. As long as a single spark of either remains, the battle goes on. And for 
as long as man is alive, the quest for maturity keeps on. 


Cultural Predilection for Totalitarianism 

In the battle against this dread disease, social factors as well as personal ones play 
an important role. We can see this more clearly if we analyze the ways in which the 
ideals of a culture as a whole affect its citizens' vulnerability to totalitarianism. The 
ethics of our own Western civilization are our strongest defences against the 
disease, for the ideal of these ethics is to produce a breed of men and women who 
are strongly individualistic and who evaluate situations primarily in terms of their own 

We aim to develop in our citizens a sense of self-responsibility, a willingness to 
confront the world as it is, and an ability to distinguish between right and wrong 
through their own feelings and thoughts. Such men and women are impelled to 
action by their personal moral standards rather than by what some outside group 
sets up as correct. They are unwilling to accept group evaluations immediately 
unless these coincide with their own personal convictions, or unless they have been 
able to discuss them in a democratic way. People like this are responsible to their 
communities because they are first responsible to themselves. If they disagree, they 
will form a "loyal minority", using their rights of convincing other people at 
appropriate times. 

There are other cultures which emphasize attitudes and values that are different 
from these. The Eastern ideal of man, as we find it in China and some of the other 
Oriental countries, is in the first place that one "oneness", of being one with the 
family, one with the fatherland, one with the cosmos -- nirvana. The Oriental psyche 
looks for a direct aesthetic contact with reality through an indefinable empathy and 
intuition. Eternal truth is behind reality, behind the veil of Maya. Man is part of the 
universe; his ideal is passive servility and non-irritability. His ideal of peace lies in 
rest and relaxation, in meditation, in being without manual and mental travail. The 
happiness of the Oriental psyche lies in the ecstasy of feeling united with the 
universal cosmos. Ascesis, self-redemption, and poverty are better realized ideals in 
Oriental culture than in our Western society. 

The classic Oriental culture pattern can best be described as a pattern of 
participation. In it the individual is looked upon as an integral part of the group, the 
family, the caste, the nation. He is not a separate, independent entity. In this culture, 
greater conformity to and acceptance of the collective rules are the ideals. An 
Oriental child may be trained from infancy into a pattern of submission to authority 
and to rules of the group. Many primitive cultures also display this pattern. To a 
person raised in these cultures, the most acceptable standards, the best conceivable 
thoughts and actions, are those sanctioned by the group. The totalitarian world of 
mass actions and mass thoughts is far more comprehensible to the members of a 
participation-patterned and less individual-minded culture than it is to Western 
individualists. What is to us unbearable regimentation and authoritarianism may be 
to them comforting order and regularity. 


An example of an intensified pattern of participation and thought control and mutual 
spying has been given by the anthropologist E. P. Dozier. [See the "New York 
Times", December 11, 1955; and "Science News Letter", December 3, 1955.] The 
Pueblo Indians of the Rio Grande area believe that wrongdoing or wrong thinking of 
one man in the tribe affects all members. He may upset the cosmic balance by ill 
feeling toward any one of his fellow men. The moral code of the village is group- 
centred. The individual who transgresses this jeopardizes the well-being of all. 
Epidemics, crop failures, droughts are interpreted as a result of "deviationism" of one 
member of the group. Village members are closely watched and spied on in order to 
discover the culprit or "witch." Gossip and accusations of witchcraft are rampant, and 
the Pueblo Indian is constantly searching in his own conscience for harmful thoughts 
and attitudes. It is as if we watch the ritual of the purge in the totalitarian state. 

Such forms of "creeping collectivism" and participation we may see in every group 
formation where tolerance for non-conformism ceases to exist. Wherever dogmatic 
partisanship dominates, the mind is coerced. We may even detect such encroaching 
tendencies in some scientific circles where there exists an overemphasis on group 
research, teamwork, membership cards, and a disdain for individual opinion. 

The culture into which a man is born and his own psychological constitution interact 
to produce his personality in much the same way as his body and mind interact to 
produce his behaviour. Our culture of individual freedom may offer us a partial 
immunity to the disease of totalitarianism, but at the same time our personal 
immaturities and repressed savageries can make us vulnerable to it. The 
participation type of culture may make men more susceptible in general to 
totalitarianism, although personal strivings toward maturity and individuality can offer 
them, too, some measure of protection against it. 

Because of the interaction between these social and personal forces, no culture is 
completely safe from internal attack by totalitarianism and from the mental 
destruction it may create. As I said before, our Totalitaria is a mythical country, but 
the brutal truth is that any country can be turned into Totalitaria. 

The aims of the rulers of our fictitious country are simply formulated: despotism, the 
total domination of man and mankind, and the unity of the entire world under one 
dictatorial authority. At first glance, this idea of unity can be most attractive - the 
idea, oversimplified, of a brotherhood unity of nations under a central powerful 
agency. When the world is one, it would seem, there will be no more war, the 
tensions that face us will be eliminated, earth will become a paradise. But the 
simplified conception of a universal dictatorship is false and reflects the danger 
inherent in the totalitarian goal: all men are different, and it is the difference between 
them that creates the greatness, the variety, and the creative inspirations of life, as 
well as the tensions of social intercourse. The totalitarian conception of equalization 
can be realized only in death, when the chemical and physical laws that govern all of 
us take over completely. Death is indeed the great equalizer. 


In life, all of us are different. Our bodies and minds interact with one another and with 
the outside world in different ways. Each man's personality is unique. True, all of us 
share certain basic human qualities with all the other members of the human race, 
but the differences in personality are also so many and so varied that no two men 
anywhere in the world or ever in all of human history can be said to be exactly alike. 
This uniqueness is as true of the citizen of Totalitaria as it is of anyone else. As a 
human being, he is not only different from us, he is different from his compatriots. 
However, to create man in the totalitarian image through levelling and equalization 
means to suppress what is essentially personal and human in him, the uniqueness 
and the variety, and to create a society of robots, not men. 

The noted social scientist, J. S. Brunner, in his introduction to Bauer's book on Soviet 
psychology has expressed this thought in a different way: "Man's image of the nature 
of man is not only a matter for objective inquiry; it is and has always been a prime 
instrument of social and political control. He who moulds that image does so with 
enormous consequences for the society in which he lives." 

Totalitaria fosters the illusion that everyone is part of the government, a voter; no one 
can be a non-voter or anti-voter. His inner pros and cons and doubts are not private 
problems of the individual himself any more; his thoughts belong to the state, the 
dictator, the ruling circle, the Party. His inner thoughts have to be controlled. Only 
those in power know what really lies behind national policy. The ordinary citizen 
becomes as dependent and obedient as a child. In exchange for giving up his 
individuality, he obtains some special gratifications: the feeling of belonging and of 
being protected, the sense of relief over losing his personal boundaries and 
responsibilities, the ecstasy of being taken up and absorbed in wild, uncontrolled 
collective feelings, the safety of being anonymous, of being merely a cog in the 
wheel of the all-powerful state. 

The despotism of modern Totalitaria is very different from the lush, exotic personal 
tyrannies of ancient times. It is an ascetic, cold, mechanical force, aiming at what 
Hanna Ahrendt calls the "transformation of human nature itself." In our theoretical 
country, man has no individual ego any longer, no personality, no self. A levelling 
system is at work, and everything above the common level is trampled on and 
beaten down. 


The Totalitarian Leader 

The leaders of Totalitaria are the strangest men in the state. These men are, like all 
other men, unique in their mental structure, and consequently we cannot make any 
blanket psychiatric diagnosis of the mental illness which motivates their behaviour. 

But we can make some generalizations which will help us toward some 
understanding of the totalitarian leader. Obviously, for example, he suffers from an 
overwhelming need to control other human beings and to exert unlimited power, and 
this in itself is a psychological aberration, often rooted in deep-seated feelings of 
anxiety, humiliation, and inferiority. The ideologies such men propound are only used 
as tactical and strategical devices through which they hope to reach their final goal of 
complete domination over other men. This domination may help them compensate 
for pathological fears and feelings of unworthiness, as we can conclude from the 
psychological study of some modern dictators. 

Fortunately, we do not have to rely on a purely hypothetical picture of the 
psychopathology of the totalitarian dictator. Dr. G. M. Gilbert, who studied some of 
the leaders of Nazi Germany during the Nuremberg trials, has given us a useful 
insight into their twisted minds, useful especially because it reveals to us something 
about the mutual interaction between the totalitarian leader and those who want to 
be led by him. 

Hitler's suicide made a clinical investigation of his character structure impossible, but 
Dr. Gilbert heard many eyewitness reports of Hitler's behaviour from his friends and 
collaborators, and these present a fantastic picture of Nazism's prime mover. Hitler 
was known among his intimates as the carpet-eater, because he often threw himself 
on the floor in a kicking and screaming fit like an epileptic rage. From such reports, 
Dr. Gilbert was able to deduce something about the roots of the pathological 
behaviour displayed by this morbid "genius." 

Hitler's paranoid hostility against the Jew was partly related to his unresolved 
parental conflicts; the Jews probably symbolized for him the hated drunken father 
who mistreated Hitler and his mother when the future Fuhrer was still a child. Hitler's 
obsessive thinking, his furious fanaticism, his insistence on maintaining the purity of 
"Aryan blood," and his ultimate mania to destroy himself and the world were 
obviously the results of a sick psyche. 

As early as 1923, nearly ten years before he seized power, Hitler was convinced that 
he would one day rule the world, and he spent time designing monuments of victory, 
eternalizing his glory, to be erected all over the European continent when the day of 
victory arrived. This delusional preoccupation continued until the end of his life; in the 
midst of the war he created, which led him to defeat and death, Hitler continued 
revising and improving his architectural plans. 

Nazi dictator Number Two, Hermann Goering, who committed suicide to escape the 
hangman, had a different psychological structure. His pathologically aggressive 
drivers were encouraged by the archaic military tradition of the German Junker class, 
to which his family belonged. 


From early childhood he had been compulsively and overtly aggressive. He was an 
autocratic and a corrupt cynic, grasping the Nazi-created opportunity to achieve 
purely personal gain. His contempt for the "common people" was unbounded; this 
was a man who had literally no sense of moral values. 

Quite different again was Rudolf Hess, the man of passive yet fanatical doglike 
devotion, living, as it were, by proxy through the mind of his Fuhrer. His inner mental 
weakness made it easier for him to live through means of a proxy than through his 
own personality, and drove him to become the shadow of a seemingly strong man, 
from whom he could borrow strength. The Nazi ideology have this frustrated boy the 
illusion of blood identification with the glorious German race. After his wild flight to 
England, Hess showed obvious psychotic traits; his delusions of persecution, 
hysterical attacks, and periods of amnesia are among the well-known clinical 
symptoms of schizophrenia. 

Still another type was Hans Frank, the devil's advocate, the prototype of the 
overambitious latent homosexual, easily seduced into political adventure, even when 
this was in conflict with the remnants of his conscience. For unlike Goering, Frank 
was capable of distinguishing between right and wrong. 

Dr. Gilbert also tells us something about General Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler's Chief of 
Staff, who became the submissive, automatic mouthpiece of the Fuhrer, mixing 
military honor and personal ambition in the service of his own unimportance. 

Of a different quality is the S.S. Colonel, Hoess, the murderer of millions in the 
concentration camp of Auschwitz. A pathological character structure is obvious in 
this case. All his life, Hoess had been a lonely, withdrawn, schizoid personality, 
without any conscience, wallowing in his own hostile and destructive fantasies. Alone 
and bereft of human attachments, he was intuitively sought out by Himmler for this 
most savage of all the Nazi jobs. He was a useful instrument for the committing of 
the most bestial deeds. 

Unfortunately, we have no clear psychiatric picture yet of the Russian dictator Stalin. 
There have been several reports that during the last years of his life he had a 
tremendous persecution phobia and lived in constant terror that he would become 
the victim of his own purges. 

Psychological analysis of these men shows clearly that a pathological culture - a 
mad world - can be built by certain impressive psychoneurotic types. The venal 
political figures need not even comprehend the social and political consequences of 
their behaviour. They are compelled not by ideological belief, no matter how much 
they may rationalize to convince themselves they are, but by the distortions of their 
own personalities. They are not motivated by their advertised urge to serve their 
country or mankind, but rather by an overwhelming need and compulsion to satisfy 
the cravings of their own pathological character structures. 


The ideologies they spout are not real goals; they are the cynical devices by which 
these sick men hope to achieve some personal sense of worth and power. Subtle 
inner lies seduce them into going from bad to worse. Defensive self-deception, 
arrested insight, evasion of emotional identification with others, degradation of 
empathy - the mind has many defense mechanisms with which to blind the 

A clear example of this can be seen in the way the Nazi leaders defended 
themselves through continuous self-justification and exculpation when they were 
brought before the bar at the Nuremberg trials. These murderers were aggrieved and 
hurt by the accusations brought against them; they were the very picture of injured 

Any form of leadership, if unchecked by controls, may gradually turn into 
dictatorship. Being a leader, carrying great power and responsibility for other 
people's lives, is a monumental test for the human psyche. The weak leader is the 
man who cannot meet it, who simply abdicates his responsibility. The dictator is the 
man who replaces the existing standards of justice and morality by more and more 
private prestige, by more and more power, and eventually isolates himself more and 
more from the rest of humanity. His suspicion grows, his isolation grows, and the 
vicious circle leading to a paranoid attitude begins to develop. 

The dictator is not only a sick man, he is also a cruel opportunist. He sees no value 
in any other person and feels no gratitude for any help he may have received. He is 
suspicious and dishonest and believes that his personal ends justify any means he 
may use to achieve them. Peculiarly enough, every tyrant still searches for some 
self-justification. Without such a soothing device for his own conscience, he cannot 

His attitude toward other people is manipulative; to him, they are merely tools for the 
advancement of his own interests. He rejects the conception of doubt, of internal 
contradictions, of man's inborn ambivalence. He denies the psychological fact that 
man grows to maturity through groping, through trial and error, through the interplay 
of contrasting feelings. Because he will not permit himself to grope, to learn through 
trial and error, the dictator can never become a mature person. But whether he 
acknowledges them or not, he has internal conflicts, he suffers somewhere from 
internal confusion. These inner "weaknesses" he tries to repress sternly; if they were 
to come to the surface, they might interfere with the achievement of his goals. Yet, in 
the attacks of rage his weakening strength is evident. 

It is because the dictator is afraid, albeit unconsciously, of his own internal 
contradictions, that he is afraid of the same internal contradictions of his fellow men. 
He must purge and purge, terrorize and terrorize in order to still his own raging inner 
drives. He must kill every doubter, destroy every person who makes a mistake, 
imprison everyone who cannot be proved to be utterly single-minded. In Totalitaria, 
the latent aggression and savagery in man are cultivate by the dictator to such a 
degree that they can explode into mass criminal actions shown by Hitler's 
persecution of minorities. Ultimately, the country shows a real pathology, an utter 
dominance of destructive and self-destructive tendencies. 


The Final Surrender of the Robot Man 

What happens to the common man in such a culture? How can we describe the 
citizen of Totalitaria? Perhaps the simplest answer to this question lies in the 
statement that he is reduced to the mechanical precision of an insectlike state. He 
cannot develop any warm friendships, loyalties, or allegiances because they may be 
too dangerous for him. Today's friend may be, after all, tomorrow's enemy. Living in 
an atmosphere of constant suspicion -- not only of strangers, but even of his own 
family - he is afraid to express himself lest concentration camp or prison swallow him 

The citizens of Totalitaria do not really converse with one another. When they speak, 
they whisper, first looking furtively over their shoulders for the inevitable spy. Their 
inner silence is in sharp contrast to the official verbal bombardment. The citizens of 
Totalitaria may make noise, and utter polite banalities, or they may repeat slogans to 
one another, but they say nothing. Existing literature reveals that leading authors, 
among them H.G. Wells, Huxley, and Orwell, grow more and more concerned about 
the ghastly future of the robotized man, trained as a machine on a standard of 
conformity. They translate for us the common fear of a mechanized civilization. 

In Totalitaria, the citizen no longer knows the real core of his mind. He no longer 
feels himself an "I", an ego, a person. He is only the object of official barrage and 
mental coercion. Having no personality of his own, he has no individual conscience, 
no personal morality, no capacity to think clearly and honestly. He learns by rote, he 
learns thousands of indoctrinated facts and inhales dogma and slogans with every 
breath he draws. He becomes an obedient pedant, and pedantry makes people into 
something resembling pots filled with information instead of individuals with free, 
growing personalities. 

Becoming wiser and freer implies selective forgetting and changes of mind. This we 
accept, this we leave behind. Alert adjustment requires a change of patterns, the 
capacity to be de-conditioned, to undo and unlearn in order to become ripe for new 
patterns. The citizen of Totalitaria has no chance for such learning through 
unlearning, for growth through individual experience. Official oversimplifications 
induce the captive audience into acceptance and indoctrination. Mass ecstasy and 
mass fanaticism are substituted for quiet individual thought and consideration. 

Hitler taught his people to march and to do battle, and at the end they did not know 
wherefore they marched and battled. People become herds -- indoctrinated and 
obsessed herds -- intoxicated first with enthusiasm and happy expectations, then 
with terror and panic, the individual personality cannot grow in Totalitaria. The huge 
mass of citizens is tamed into personal and political somnambulism. 

It may be scientifically questionable to compare experiences gained from individual 
pathological states with social phenomena and to analyze the partial collapse of the 
ego under totalitarianism by analogy with actual cases of madness. 


But there is in fact much that is comparable between the strange reactions of the 
citizens of Totalitaria and their culture as a whole on the one hand and the reactions 
of the introverted, sick schizophrenic on the other. 

Even though the problem of schizophrenic behaviour in individuals and groups is 
extremely complicated and cannot be fully handled within the scope of this book, the 
comparison can be helpful in our search for an understanding of the nature and 
effects of totalitarianism. 


The Common Retreat from Reality 

This excursion into the world of pathology is not a description of a merely 
coincidental resemblance between a disease and a political system. It should serve 
to point up the fact that totalitarian withdrawal behind official justifications and 
individual fantasy is something that can occur either in social life or inside the 
individual mind. And many scholars believe in a relationship between cultural 
deterioration and schizophrenic withdrawal. 

Let us briefly explain the individual schizophrenic's reaction of complete inner 
automatization and mental withdrawal as a personal failure to adjust to a world 
experienced as insecure and dangerous. Often rather simple emotional incidents 
may lead to such schizophrenic retreat -- for instance, the intrusion of schedules and 
habits forced on the mind during infancy or a sly hypersensitivity to our overactive 
and over-verbose culture. Many a child is forced into schizophrenic withdrawal by an 
over-compulsive parent. Sometimes lack of external contact may drive a man into a 
state of utter loneliness and isolation, sometimes his own preference for solitude. A 
certain tendency to so-called schizophrenic withdrawal has been proved to be 
inborn. Yet it an be provoked in everybody. 

Whatever the cause, the schizophrenic patient becomes a dissocialized being, lost in 
loneliness. Conscious and unconscious fantasy life begins to become dominant over 
alert confrontation of reality. In the end his weird fantasies become more real for the 
schizophrenic than the actual world. He hides more and more behind his own iron 
curtain, in the imaginary dreamland and retreat he has built for himself. This is his 
nirvana, in which all his dream wishes are fulfilled. Inertia and fanaticism alternate. 
The patient regresses to an infantile, vegetative form of behaviour and rejects 
everything that society has taught him. In his fantasy, he lives in a world which 
always obeys his commands. He is omnipotent. The world turns around according to 
his divine inclinations. 

Reality, requiring as it does, continual and renewed adjustment and verification, 
becomes a persecutor, attacking his illusion of divine might. Every disturbing 
intrusion into his delusional world is encountered by the schizophrenic either with 
tremendous aggression or with the formation of secondary delusion to protect the 
first delusion, or with a combination of both. The schizophrenic displays tremendous 
hostility toward the real world and its representatives; reality robs him both of his 
delusions of omnipotence and his hallucinatory sense of being utterly protected, as 
he was in the womb. 

Clinical experience has shown that the disease of schizophrenia often begins with 
negativism - a defense against the influence of others, a continual fight against 
mental intrusion, against what is felt as the rape of the oversensitive mind. Gradually, 
this defensive attitude toward the world becomes a hostile attitude toward 
everything, not only toward influences from the outside, but also toward thoughts and 
feelings from the inside. 


Finally, the victim becomes paralyzed by his own hostility and negativisms. He 
behaves literally as though he were dead. He sits, unmoving, for hours. He may 
have to be force-fed, force-dressed. The schizophrenic moves like a puppet on a 
string, only when someone compels him to. Clinically, we call this catatonia -- the 
death attitude. 


The Retreat to Automatization 

Introverted schizophrenics prefer the automatic routine life of the asylum to life in the 
outside world, on the condition that they be allowed to indulge their private fantasies. 
They surrender utterly in self-defeatism. They never congregate in groups, they 
seldom talk with one another; even when they do, they never have any real mutual 
contact. Each one lives in his own retreat. 

In the totalitarian myth - think, for instance, of "das Dritte Reich" - in the 
psychological folklore of our mythical state, the vague fantasy of the technically 
perfected womb, the ideal nirvana, plays a tremendous role. In a world full of 
insecurities, a world requiring continual alert adjustment and readjustment, Totalitaria 
creates the delusion of the omnipotent, miraculous ideal state -- a state where, in its 
final form, every material need will be satisfied. Everything will be regulated, just as it 
was for the foetus in the womb, the land of bliss and equanimity, just as it is for the 
schizophrenic in the mental hospital. 

There is no social struggle, no mental struggle; the world moves like clockwork. 
There is no real interplay between people, no clash of opinions or beliefs, there is no 
emotional relationship between these womb-fellows; each exists as a separate 
number-bearing entity in the same filing system. 

In Totalitaria, there is no faith in fellow men, no "caritas," no love, because real 
relationships between men do not exist, just as they do not exist between 
schizophrenics. There is only faith in and subjection to the feeding system, and there 
is in every citizen a tremendous fear of being expelled from that system, a fear of 
being totally lost, comparable with the schizophrenic's feeling of rejection and fear of 
reality. In the midst of spiritual loneliness and isolation, there is the fear of still 
greater loneliness, of more painful isolation. Without protective regulations from the 
outside, internal hell may break lose. Strong mechanical external order must be used 
to cover the internal chaos and approaching breakdown. 

We have had experience in post-war years with several refugees from the totalitarian 
world who broke down when they had to cope with a world of freedom where 
personal initiative was required. The fear of freedom brought them to a state of 
panic. They no longer had strong enough egos to build and maintain their defences 
against the competitive demands of free democratic reality. 

As in schizophrenia, a manoeuvrable and individual ego cannot exist in Totalitaria. In 
schizophrenia the ego shrinks as a result of withdrawal; in Totalitaria, as a result of 
constant merging in mass feelings. If such a shrunken ego should grow up, with its 
own critical attitude, its needs for verification of facts and for understanding, it would 
then be beaten down as being treacherous and nonconforming. 

Totalitaria requires of its citizens complete subjection to and identification with the 
leader. It is this leader-dominance that makes people nearly ego-less, as they are in 
schizophrenia. This again may result in loss of control of hostile and destructive 


Psychologists have seen this time and time again in what we call the concentration - 
camp psyche. When the victims first came to the camp -- dedicated to their gradual 
extermination - most of them displayed a complete loss of self, an utter 
depersonalization, combined with apathy and loss of awareness. The same 
observations have been made among our POWs in Korea. Some concentration - 
camp victims got better immediately after their return to a normal society; in others, 
this schizophrenic reaction of lost ego remained and, as we mentioned above, 
sometimes developed into a real psychosis. 


The Womb State 

Totalitarianism is man's escape from the fearful realities of life into the virtual womb 
of the leader. The individual's actions are directed from this womb - from the inner 
sanctum. The mystic center is in control of everything; man need no longer assume 
responsibility for his own life. The order and logic of the prenatal world reign. There 
is peace and silence, the peace of utter submission. The members of the womb state 
do not really communicate; between them there is silence, the silence of possible 
betrayal, not the mature silence of reticence and reservedness. 

Totalitaria increases the gap between the things one shows and communicates and 
the things one secretly dreams and thinks deep within oneself. It develops the 
artificial split-mindedness of political silence. Whatever little remains of individual 
feeling and opinion is kept carefully enclosed. In the schizophrenic world of 
Totalitaria, there is no free mutual exchange, no conversation, no exclamation, no 
release from emotional tension. It is a world of silent conspirators. Indeed, the 
atmosphere of suspicion is the big attacker of mental freedom because it makes 
people cling together, conspiring against mysterious enemies -- first from outside, 
then among themselves. 

In Totalitaria, each citizen is continually watched. The mythical state moulds the 
individual's conscience. He has hardly any of his own. His neighbours watch him, his 
postman, his children, and they all represent the punishing state, just as he himself 
must represent the state and watch others. Not betraying them is a crime. 

The need to find conspiracies, to discover persecutors and criminals is another 
schizophrenic manifestation. It is psychologically related to an infantile need for a 
feeling of omnipotence. Megalomaniac feelings grow better in an atmosphere of 
mysterious secrecy. Secrecy and conspiracy increase the delusion of power. That is 
why so many people like to pry into other people's lives and to play the spy. 

This feeling of conspiracy also lies behind the pathological struggle with imaginary 
persecutors, a struggle we find both in mentally ill individuals and in our mythical 
Totalitaria. "It is there!" "It is chasing us!" All the inner fears of losing the nirvanic 
womb-illusion become rampant. Mysterious ghosts and vultures chase people out of 
nirvana and paradise. 

In these fantasies, the patriarch, the dictator, the idol, becomes both the universal 
danger and the omnipotent savoir at the same time. Not even the citizens of 
Totalitaria really love this cruel giant. Suspicion against the breast that feeds and the 
hand that guides and forbids is often found in the fantasy of schizophrenic children, 
who experience the nourisher as the enemy, the dominating ogre, bribing the 
growing mind into submission. 

The deep hate the sick individual feels toward the parental figure cannot be 
expressed directly, and so it is displaced onto the self or onto scapegoats. 
Scapegoats is also part of the totalitarian strategy. 


As we pointed out before, the scapegoat temporarily absorbs all the individual's inner 
fury and rage. Kulaks, Negroes, Jews, Communists, capitalists, profiteers, and 
warmongers - any or all of them can play that role. Perhaps the greatest dangers, to 
the totalitarian mind, is the use of intellect and awareness and the "egg-head's" 
demand for free, verifying thinking. Aberration and perversion are chosen by the 
citizens of Totalitaria, as they are by the inhabitants of madhouses, over the tiring, 
intellectual control. 

In the center of the totalitarian fears and fantasies stands the man-eating god and 
idol. He is unconquerable. He uses man's great gift of adjustment to bring him to 
slavery. Every man's inner core of feelings and thoughts has to belong to the leader. 
Is the citizen of Totalitaria consciously aware of this? Probably not. Modern 
psychology has taught us how strongly the mental mechanism of denial of reality 
works. The eye bypasses external occurrences when the mind does not want them 
to happen. Secondary justifications and fantasies are formed to support and explain 
these denials. In Totalitaria we find the same despising of reality facts as we do in 
schizophrenia. How else are we to explain the fact that Hitler was still moving his 
armies on paper after they were already defeated? 

Totalitarian strategy covers inner chaos and conflict by the strict order of the police 
state. So does the compulsive schizophrenic patient, by his inner routine and 
schedules. These routines and schedules are a defense against painful occurrences 
in external reality. This internal robotization may lead to denial of internal realities 
and internal needs as well. The citizen of Totalitaria, repressing and rejecting his 
inner need for freedom, may even experience slavery as liberation. He may go even 
one step further - yearn for an escape from life itself, a delusion that he could 
become omnipotent through utter destruction. 

The SS soldiers called this the magic action of the "Blutkitt," the tie of bloody crime 
binding them together and preparing them for Valhalla. With this magic unification, 
they could die with courage and equanimity. Anarchic despair and need for 
greatness alternated in them as they do in the psychotic patient. In the same way, 
the citizens of Totalitaria search for a "heroic" place in history even though the price 
be doom an annihilation. 

Many soldiers - tired by the rigidities of normal life - look back at violent moments of 
their war experiences, despite the hunger and terror, as the monumental culminating 
experiences of their lives. There, in the "Bruderbund" of fighters, they felt happy for 
the first and only times in their lives. 

This all sounds like a bitter comedy, but the fantasy of schizophrenics has taught us 
how the mind can retreat into delusion when there is a fear of daily existence. Under 
these circumstances, fantasy begins to prevail over reality, and soon assumes a 
validity which reality never had. The totalitarian mind is like the schizophrenic mind; it 
has a contempt for reality. Think for a moment of Lysenko's theory and its denial of 
the influence of heredity. The totalitarian mind does not observe and verify its 
impressions of reality; it dictates to reality how it shall behave, it compels reality to 
conform to its fantasies. 


The comparison between totalitarianism and psychosis is not incidental. Delusional 
thinking inevitably creeps into every form of tyranny and despotism. Unconscious 
backward forces come into action. Evil powers from the archaic past return. An 
automatic compulsion to go on to self-destruction develops, to justify one mistake 
with a new one; to enlarge and expand the vicious pathological circle becomes the 
dominating end of life. The frightened man, burdened by a culture he does not 
understand, retreats into the brute's fantasy of limitless power in order to cover up 
the vacuum inside himself. This fantasy starts with the leaders and is later taken over 
by the masses they oppress. 

What else can man do when he is caught in that tremendous machine called 
Totalitaria? Thinking - and the brain itself - has become superfluous, that is, only 
reserved for the elite. Man has to renounce his uniqueness, his individual 
personality, and must surrender to the equalizing and homogenizing patterns of so- 
called integration and standardization. This arouses in him that great inner 
emptiness of the savage child, the emptiness of the robot that unwittingly years for 
the great destruction. 



In order to investigate the social forces at work undermining the free individual 
development of man's mind, we have to look at manifold aspects of political life. As a 
clinician and polypragmatist, I don't want to bind myself to one political state or 
current, but want to describe what can be experienced in social life everywhere. 
Where human thinking and human habits are in the process of being remoulded, 
they are under the influence of tremendous political upheaval. In one country this 
may happen overnight, in others more slowly. The psychologists' task is to observe 
and describe the impact of these processes on the human mind. 

When once a nation is under the yoke of totalitarianism, when once its people have 
succumbed to the oversimplifications and blandishments of the would-be dictator, 
how does the leader maintain his power? What techniques does he use to make his 
countrymen docile followers of his bloody regime? 

Because man's mature self resists totalitarianism, the dictator must work and 
scheme constantly to keep his subjects in line and to immobilize their need for 
individual development, rebellion, and healthy growth. As we examine his 
techniques, we will come to a better understanding of totalitarianism and of the 
interaction between the dictator's methods and the personalities of his subjects. We 
need this understanding desperately, for we have to recognize that the forces in 
Totalitaria that make humourless robots out of living men can also develop, albeit 
unwittingly, in the so-called free, democratic societies. 


The Strategy of Terror 

The weapon of terror has been used by tyrants from time immemorial to make a 
meek instrument of man. In Totalitaria, the use of this weapon is refined to a science 
which can wipe out all opposition and dissent. The leaders of Totalitaria rule by 
intimidation; they prefer loyalty through fear to loyalty through faith. Fear and terror 
freeze the mind and will; they may create a general psychic paralysis. In the panic 
caused by totalitarian terror, men feel separated from one another, as by an 
impassable vacuum, and each man becomes a lonely, frightened soul. Even panicky 
hovering together could be suspected of being conspiracy against the state. 
Separated from any real emotional contact with his fellow men by his own inner 
isolation, the citizen of Totalitaria becomes increasingly unable to fight against its 
dehumanizing influences. 

Totalitaria is constantly on the alert for social sinners, the critics of the system, and 
accusation of dissent is equivalent to conviction in the public eye. Insinuation, 
calumny, and denunciation are staples of the totalitarian strategy. The entire nation 
is dedicated to the proposition that every man is a potential enemy of the regime. No 
one is excluded from the terror. Any man may be subjected to it no matter how high 
his rank. 

The secret police create awe and panic inside the country, while the army serves to 
create awe and panic outside. Just the thought of an outbreak of terror - of even a 
possible future terror - makes men unwilling to express their opinions and expose 
themselves. Both the citizens of Totalitaria and those of her neighbours are affected 
by this general fear. A clear example of how this fear paralysis operates in reality 
may be seen in the fact that as far back as 1948 western Europeans, who felt the 
shadow of anticipated totalitarian occupation, thought it safer to criticize and attack 
their American friends than to find fault with a totalitarian enemy who might sweep in 
suddenly and without warning. 

In Totalitaria, jails and concentration camps by the score are built in order to provoke 
fear and awe among the population. They may be called "punishment" or "correction" 
camps, but this is only a cheap justification for the truth. In these centres of fear, 
nobody is really corrected; he is, as it were, expelled from humanity, wasted, killed - 
but not too quickly, lest the terrorizing influence be diminished. 

The truth of the matter is that these jails are built not for real criminals, but rather for 
their terrorizing effect on the bystanders, the citizens of Totalitaria. Jails represent a 
permanent menace, a continual threat. They may put an almost insupportable strain 
on the empathy and imagination of those citizens who are, temporarily at least, on 
the outside of the barbed wire. In addition to the fear of undergoing the same cruel 
treatment, the fear of abasement, humiliation, and death, the very concept of the 
concentration camp rouses every man's deep-seated fear of being himself expelled 
from the community, of being alone, a wanderer in the desert, unloved and 


There exist several milder forms of mass terror, for instance, THE STRATEGY OF 
NO POLITICAL REST. In Totalitaria man is always caught by some form of official 
planning. He is always conscious of control and surveillance, of spying, leering 
powers lying in wait to chase him and to punish him. Even leisure time and holidays 
are occupied by some official program, some facts to be learned, some political 
meeting, some parade. Quiet and solitude no longer exist. There is no time for 
meditation, for pondering, for reminiscing. The mind is caught in a web of official 
thinking and planning. Even the delights of self-chosen silence are forbidden. Every 
citizen of Totalitaria must join in the singing and the slogan shouting. And he 
becomes so caught in the constant activity that he loses the capacity to realize what 
is happening to him. 

The emphasis on more production by individuals, factories, and agricultural 
enterprises also can become a weapon of increased control and terror. The 
Stakhanovite movement in Russia, urging a constant increase in production norms, 
became a threat for many. The workers had to increase the pace of their labour and 
production, or they would be severely punished. The emphasis on pace and speed 
makes man more and more a soulless cog in the totalitarian wheel. 

Terror can almost never stop itself; it thrives on compliance and grows in a vacuum. 
Terror as a tool means a gradual transfer into terror as a goal - but terror is actually a 
self-defeating strategy. Man will ultimately revolt even under an absolute 
dictatorship. When men have been reduced to puppet-hood by Totalitaria, they will 
finally have become immune to all threats. The magic spell of terror will finally lose 
its force. First the citizens of Totalitaria will become dulled to the terror and will no 
longer consider even death a danger. Then a few will initiate a final revolt, for 
Totalitaria's government by fear and terror fosters internal rebellion, in the few who 
cannot be broken down. Even in "gleichgeschaltet" Nazi Germany a resistance 
movement was active. 


The Purging Rituals 

Cleaning out the higher echelons of government is an old historic habit. The struggle 
between fathers and sons, between the older and the younger generation, became 
ritualized far back in prehistoric times. Frazer's classic, "The Golden Bough," has told 
us a great deal about this. The ancient priest of the heathens acquired his high post 
by killing his predecessor. Later in history, the newly proclaimed king offered 
criminals instead as sacrifices to the gods on the day of his anointment. 

In Totalitaria, the killing and purging ritual is part of the mechanism of government, 
and it serves not only a symbolic but also a very real function for the dictator. He 
must eliminate all those he has bypassed and double-crossed in his ruthless climb to 
power, lest their resentments and frustrated rage break out, endangering his position 
or even his life. 

The purge reflects another characteristic of life in Totalitaria. It dramatizes the fiction 
that the party is always on the alert to keep itself pure and clean. Psychiatry has 
demonstrated that the cleanliness compulsion in neurotic individuals is actually a 
displaced defense against their own inner rage and hostility. It plays the same sort of 
role in communities, and when it is elevated to the level of an officially sanctioned 
ritual, it reduces the citizenry to infancy. It makes the inhabitants of Totalitaria feel 
like babies -- still struggling to learn their first cleanliness habits, still listening to their 
parent's reiterated commands to be clean, be clean, be clean, be good, be good, be 
good, be loyal, be loyal, be loyal. The constant repetition of these commands 
reinforces each citizen's sense of guilt, of childishness, and of shame. 

The totalitarian purge is always accompanied by an elaborate confession 
ceremonial, in which the accused publicly repents his sins, much as did the witches 
of the Middle Ages. This is the general formula: "I confess my doubts. Thanks to the 
criticism of the comrades, I have been able to purify my thinking. I bow in humility to 
the opinion of my comrades and the Party and am thankful for the opportunity to 
correct my errors. You enabled me to repudiate my deviational questions. I 
acknowledge my debt to the selfless leader and the government of the people." 

The strategy of public expression of shame has two effects: it serves, like the 
purging rituals themselves, to provoke feelings of childish submissiveness among 
the people, and, at the same time, it offers each citizen a defense against his own 
deep-seated psychological problems and feelings of guilt and unworthiness. 
Somewhere deep inside him, the citizen of Totalitaria knows that he has abdicated 
his maturity and his responsibility; public purgings relieve his sense of shame. "It is 
the others who are guilty and dirty, not I," he thinks. "It is they who are constantly 
plotting and conniving." But the very things of which he suspects others are also true 
of himself. He is afraid others will betray him because he cannot be sure in his own 
mind that he will not betray them. Thus his inner tensions increase, and the purge 
provides a periodic blood offering to his own fear and to the god of threat. 


The very fact that this ritual of coercive confession and purge must be repeated 
again and again indicates that man develops an inner mental defense against it and 
that the more it is used, the less effective it becomes as a means of arousing guilt 
and terror. Just as the citizen of Totalitaria becomes hardened or dulled to the terror 
of constant official intrusion into his private life, so he becomes almost immune to the 
cries of treason and sabotage. 

In the same way, as the purge becomes less effective as a taming tool, the tyrant 
uses it more frequently to soothe his own fears. History provides us with many 
examples of revolutions which eventually drowned in a bloody reign of terror and 
purge. Some of the most devoted heroes and leaders of the French Revolution met 
their death on the guillotine of the republic they helped to create. 


Wild Accusation and Black Magic 

Wild accusation and black magic, like all the other taming tools of Totalitaria, are 
nothing new, but in primitive civilizations and in prehistoric times the craft of black 
magic was rather simple. The shaman had merely to destroy or mutilate a small 
statuette of the accused criminal, to point or thrust a special stick at the man himself, 
or to curse and berate him with furious words and gestures in order to bring his 
victim to collapse and death. In his blind acceptance of the magic ritual, the victim 
was possessed by fear, and often he gave himself up to the spell and just died 

This magic slaying of the foe has plural psychological implications. The victim of the 
magic spell was often looked upon as the representative of the tribal god, the 
internalized authority and father. He must be killed because his very existence 
aroused guilt and remorse among his people. His death may silence the inner voices 
in every man which warn against impending downfall. Sometimes the victim comes 
from a different tribe than that of his accusers. In this situation, the stranger is an 
easier scapegoat, and punishing him serves to still the clash of ambivalent feelings 
in the members of the killing tribe. Hate for an outsider checks and deflects the hate 
and aggression each man feels toward his own group and toward himself. The more 
fear there is in a society, the more guilt each individual member of the society feels, 
the more need there is for internal scapegoats and external enemies. INTERNAL 

In Totalitaria, the air is full of gossip, calumny, and rumour. Any accusation, even if it 
is false, has a greater influence on the citizenry than subsequent vindication. Bills of 
particulars, made out of whole cloth are manufactured against innocents, especially 
against former leaders, who have been able to develop some personal esteem and 
loyalty among their friends and followers. Trumped-up charges made against us 
always revive unconscious feelings of guilt and induce us to tremble. 

In our analysis of the psychological forces that lead prisoners of war and other 
political victims to confession and betrayal, we saw how strongly the sense of hidden 
guilt and doubt in each man impels him under strain to surrender to the demands 
and ideologies of the enemy. This same mechanism is at work constantly among the 
citizens of Totalitaria. Accusations against others remind him of his own inner 
rebellions and hostilities, which he does not dare to bring out into the open, and so 
the accused, even when he is innocent, becomes the scapegoat for his private 
sense of guilt. Cowardice makes the other citizens of our mythical country turn away 
from the victim lest they be accused themselves. 

The very fact that character assassination is possible reveals the frailty and 
sensitivity of human sympathy and empathy. Even in free, democratic societies, 
political campaigns are often conducted in an atmosphere of extravagant accusation 
and even wilder counter accusation. The moment the strategy of wild accusation, 
with all its disagreeable noises of vituperation and calumny, begins, we forget the 
strategic intention behind the words and find ourselves influenced by the shouting 
and name calling. "Maybe," we say to ourselves, "there is something in this story." 


This, of course, is just what the slanderer wants. In the minds of the politicians the 
illusion still persists that the end justifies the means. But campaigns of slander 
produce paradoxical results because the very fact that an unfounded accusation has 
been made weakens the moral sense of both listener and accuser. 


Spy Mania 

In Totalitaria this vicious circle of vituperation reaches its fullest flowering. Drowned 
in a reign of suspicion, the citizen of Totalitaria suffers from a terrible delusion of 
persecution -- "spy-onoia," the spy mania. He is continually on the alert, watching his 
fellow men. His good neighbour may at any moment become a saboteur or a traitor. 
The citizen of Totalitaria hardly ever looks for confusion or flaws in his own soul, but 
projects them onto scapegoats - until he himself finally becomes the victim of 
someone else's spyonoia. Every citizen is constantly trying to search out everyone 
else's innermost thoughts. Because one's own hidden thoughts are projected on 
one's neighbours, thinking in itself becomes the enemy. This great fear of the inner 
thoughts of our fellow men is related to a general process of paranoiac re-evaluation 
of the world as a result of fear and totalitarian thinking. In the denial of human loyalty 
and in the constant delusion of treason and sabotage are expressed the whole 
infantile mythology of Totalitaria and its repudiation of mature human relationships. 
Through interrogation, character assassination, humiliation, mental terror, and 
demoralization -- such as happens in individual and collective brainwashing -- man 
can be so utterly demoralized that he accepts any political system. He is nothing any 
more; why should he oppose matters? In Totalitaria there is no open policy, no free 
discussion, no honest difference of opinion; there is only intrigue and denunciation, 
with their frightening action on the masses. 

The strategy of wild accusation is used not only against Totalitaria's citizenry, but 
also against the rest of the world. Totalitaria needs the images of outside enemies - 
imaginary cruel monsters who spread plague and disease - to justify its own internal 
troubles. The remnants of the individual citizen's conscience are calmed and held in 
check by a paranoiac attack on the rest of the world. "The enemy is poisoning our 
food, throwing beetles and bacteria into our crops." This myth of an imaginary world 
conspiracy aims at bringing the fearful citizens of Totalitaria into a concerted defense 
against nonexistent dangers. It conceals, at the same time, internal failures leading 
to diminishing crops and lack of food. 

Projecting blame onto others reinforces each citizen's sense of participation in the 
totalitarian community and stills the nagging internal voice demanding that he act as 
a self-responsible individual. The myth of external plotting also increases the 
individual citizen's feeling of dependence and immaturity. Now only his dictatorial 
leader can protect him from the evil world outside - a world which is described to 
him as a vast zoo, inhabited by atomic dragons and hydrogen monsters. 


The Strategy of Criminalization 

As we said before, the citizen of Totalitaria may be able to fulfil some of his irrational, 
instinctual needs in return for his submission to totalitarian slavery. Hitler Germany 
taught us the accepted pattern. The citizen (and party member) is encouraged to 
betray his friends and parents, something the angry, frustrated baby in him has often 
wanted to do. He may live out in action his deeply repressed aggressions and 
desires for revenge. He no longer has to suppress or reject some of his own primitive 
impulses. The system assumes the full burden of his guilt and hands him a ready- 
made list of thousands of justifications and exculpations for the release of his sadistic 
impulses. Flowery catchwords, such as "historical necessity," help the individual to 
rationalize immorality and evil into morality and good. We see here the great 
corruption of civilized standards. 

In his strategy of criminalization, the totalitarian dictator destroys the conscience of 
his followers, just as he has destroyed his own. Think of the highly learned and 
polished Nazi doctors who started their professional life with the Hippocratic oath, 
promising to be the helping healer of man, but who later in cold blood inflicted the 
most horrible tortures on their concentration-camp victims (Mitscherlich). They 
slaughtered innocents by the thousands in order to discover the statistical limits of 
human endurance. They infected other thousands as guinea pigs because the 
Fuhrer wanted it so. They had lost their personal standards and ethics completely 
and justified all their crimes through the Fuhrer's will. Political catchwords 
encouraged them to yield their consciences completely to the dictator. The process 
of systematic criminalization requires a "deculturation" of the people. As one of 
Hitler's gang-men said, "When I hear the word 'civilization,' I prepare my gun." This is 
done to consistently arouse the instinct of cruelty. People are told not to believe in 
intellect and objective truth, but to listen only to the subjective dictates of the Moloch 
State, to Hitler, to Mussolini, to Stalin. 

Criminalization is conditioning people to rebellion against civilized frustrations. Show 
them blood and bloody scapegoats, and a thousand years of acculturation fall away 
from them. This implies imbuing the people with hysteria, arousing the masses, 
homogenizing the emotions. All this tends to awaken the brute Neanderthal psyche 
in man. Justify crime with the glamorous doctrine of race superiority, and then you 
make sure the people will follow you. 

Hitler knew very well what he was doing when he turned the German concentration 
camps over to the unleashed lusts of his storm troopers. "Let them kill and murder," 
was the device. "Once they have gone so far with me, they must go on to the end." 
The strategy of criminalization is not only directed toward crushing the victims of the 
totalitarian regime, but also toward giving the elite hangmen - the governing gang -- 
that poisonous feeling of power that drags them farther and farther away from every 
human feeling; their victims become people without human identity, merely speaking 
masks and ego-less robots. The strategy of criminalization is the systematic 
organization of the lower passions in man, in particular in those the dictator must 
trust as his direct helpers. 


Under the pressure of totalitarian thinking, nearly every citizen identifies with the 
ruling gang, and many must prove their loyalty by murder and killing, or at least 
expressing their approval of murder and killing. The boredom of Totalitaria's 
automatic patterns of living leads the deluded citizens to welcome the adventure of 
war and crime and self-destruction. Each new act of torture and crime makes new 
bonds of fidelity and unscrupulous obedience, especially within the leading gang. In 
the end, driven by crime and guilt, the ruling members have to stick it out together 
because the downfall of the system would bring about the downfall of the entire 
gang, both leaders and followers. The same thing holds true in the criminal world. 
Once a man has taken the first step and rejected the laws of society and joined the 
criminal gang, he is at war with the outside world and its moral evaluations. From 
that point on, the gang can blackmail him and subdue him. 

In Totalitaria, the vicious circle of criminalization of the citizenry, in which the means 
become ends in themselves, grows into a cynical conspiracy covered with the 
cynical flag of decent idealism. The country's leaders use such simple words as "the 
universal campaign of peace," and the citizens rejoice and take pride in these words. 
Only a few among them know what deceptive deeds lie behind the flowery phrases. 
These perversions are also incorporated into a great nationalistic myth - the Third 
Reich, the New Empire, the People's Republic - and the citizen's desire to do 
something heroic becomes identified with doing something violent and criminal. 
Blood becomes a magic fluid, and shedding someone else's blood becomes a 
virtuous and life-giving deed. 

Unlimited killing, as it is practiced in totalitarian systems, is related to deep, 
unconscious fears. The weak and emotionally sick in any society kill out of fear, in 
order to borrow, in a magic way, their dead victims' strength and happiness - as well 
as, of course, their material possessions. The killing of millions in the Nazi gas ovens 
was part of this ancient mythology of murder. Perhaps the members of the master 
race thought that slaughtering the Jews would ensure that the Germans would 
endure pain for as many centuries as had their victims! It is part of an old primitive 
myth that through killing one fortifies and prolongs one's own life. Let us not forget 
that forces of reason and understanding in man are rather weak. It is difficult to 
control the fire of explosive drives, once they are lighted. 

Totalitarianism must kill, slaughter, make war. Totalitaria preaches hatred, and the 
totalitarian mouthpiece is a lonely, deluded, tough "superman," calling for hatred and 
injustice and arousing intensified fanaticism unhampered by any moral feeling or 
remorse. His battle cry reinforces the dictator's hold on his subjects, because each 
citizen, in and through his guilty deeds, learns to hate his victim, whose very 
suffering arouses even more the criminal's deeply buried sense of guilt. 


Verbocracv and Semantic Fog - Talking the People into Submission 

After the First World War, we became more conscious of our attitude toward words. 
This attitude was gradually changing. Our trust in official catchwords and cliches and 
in idealistic labels had diminished. We became more and more aware of the fact that 
the important questions were what groups and powers stood behind the words, and 
what their secret intentions were. But in our easygoing way we often forget to ask 
this question, and we are all more or less susceptible to noisy, oft-repeated words. 

The formulation of big propagandistic lies and fraudulent catchwords has a very well- 
defined purpose in Totalitaria, and words themselves have acquired a special 
function in the service of power, which we may call verbocracy. The Big Lie and the 
phoney slogan at first confuse and then dull the hearers, making them willing to 
accept every suggested myth of happiness. The task of the totalitarian propagandist 
is to build special pictures in the minds of the citizenry so that finally they will no 
longer see and hear with their own eyes and ears but will look at the world through 
the fog of official catchwords and will develop the automatic responses appropriate 
to totalitarian mythology. 

The multiform use of words in DOUBLE TALK serves as an attack on our logic, that 
is, an attack on our understanding of what monolithic dictatorship really is. Hear, 
hear the nonsense: "Peace is war and war is peace! Democracy is tyranny and 
freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength! Virtue is vice and truth is a lie." So says 
the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell's grim novel, "1984." And we saw this 
nightmare fantasy come true when our soldiers who had spent long years in North 
Korean prison camps returned home talking of totalitarian China with the deceiving 
cliche of "the people's democracy." Pavlovian conditioning to special words forces 
people into an AUTOMATIC THINKING that is tied to those words. The words we 
use influence our behaviour in daily life; they determine the thoughts we have. 

In Totalitaria, facts are replaced by fantasy and distortion. People are taught 
systematically and intentionally to lie (Winokur). History is reconstructed, new myths 
are built up whose purpose is twofold: to strengthen and flatter the totalitarian leader, 
and to confuse the luckless citizens of the country. The whole vocabulary is a 
dictated set of slowly hypnotizing slogans. In the semantic fog that permeates the 
atmosphere, words lose their direct communicative function. 

They become merely commanding signs, triggering off reactions of fear and terror. 
They are battles cries and Pavlovian signals, and no longer represent free thinking. 
may have a seductive action, soothing or charming their hearers, but they are not 
allowed to have intrinsic meaning. They are conditioners, emotional triggers, serving 
to imprint the desired reaction patterns on their hearers. 

Man's mental laziness, his resistance to the hard labour of thinking, makes it 
relatively easy for Totalitaria's dictator to bring his subjects into acceptance of the Big 


At first the citizen may say to himself, "All this is just nonsense - pure double talk," 
but in the very act of trying to shrug it off, he has become subject to the power of the 
inherent suggestion. That is the trick of double talk; once a man neglects to analyze 
and verify it, he becomes lost in it and can no longer see the difference between 
rationale and rationalization. In the end, he can no longer believe anything, and he 
retreats into sullen dullness. Once the citizen of Totalitaria has accepted the "logic" 
of his leaders, he is no longer open to discussion or argument. Alas, in our Western 
world, we often meet this evasion of semantic clarity. Let us not forget that the battle 
for words is part of the ideological cold war in our world. 

Something has crept into our mechanized system of communication that has made 
our modes of thinking deteriorate. People too casually acquire ideas and concepts. 
They no longer struggle for a clear understanding. The popularized picture replaces 
the battle of the pros and cons of concepts. Instead of aiming at true understanding, 
people listen to thoughtless repetition, which gives them THE DELUSION OF 

Communication has an even more infantile, magic character for the citizen of 
Totalitaria. Words no longer represent intelligible meanings or ideas. They bind the 
citizen of Totalitaria to utter dependence on his commander, much as the infant is 
bound to the word pictures of his parents. 



Byfield points out in his pamphlet on logocide that words are commonly used as 
instruments of social revolution. Politicians seeking power must coin new labels and 
new words with emotional appeal, "while allowing the same old practices and 
institutions to continue as before. The trick is to replace a disagreeable image though 
the substance remains the same. The totalitarians consequently have to fabric a 
hate language in order to stir up the mass emotions. We have all experience how the 
word 'peace' doesn't mean peace any more, it has become a propagandistic device 
to APPEASE the masses and to disguise aggression." 

The VERBOCRACY in totalitarian thinking and the official verbosity of demagogues 
serve to disturb and suffocate the free minds of citizens. We can say that verbocracy 
turns them into what psychology calls symbol agnostics, people capable only of 
imitation, incapable of inquisitive sense of objectivity and perspective that leads to 
questioning and understanding and to the formation of individual ideas and ideals. In 
other words, the individual citizen becomes a parrot, repeating ready-made slogans 
and propaganda catchwords without understanding what they really mean, or what 
forces stand behind them. 

This parrotism may give the citizen of Totalitaria a certain infantile emotional 
pleasure, however. "Heil, heil! - Duce, Duce!" -- these rhythmic chants afford him the 
same kind of sound-enjoyment children achieve through babbling, shrieking, and 

The abuse of the word and the enshrinement of propaganda are more obvious in 
Totalitaria than in any other part of the world. But this evil exists all over. We can find 
all too many examples of it in actual conversation. Many speakers use verbal 
showing off to cover an emptiness of thought, to stir up emotions and to create 
admiration and adoration of what is essentially empty and valueless. Loud-mouthed 
phoniness threatens to become the ideal of our time. 

The semantic fog in Totalitaria is thickened by the regimentation of information. The 
citizens of our mythical country have no access to sources of facts and opinions. 
They are not free to verify what they hear or read. They are the victims of their 
leader's "labelomania" - their judgments are determined by the official labels 
everything and everybody bears. 



The urge to attach too much meaning to the label of an object or institution and to 
look only casually at its intrinsic value is characteristic of our times and seems to be 
growing. I call this condition labelomania; it is the exaggerated respect for the 
scientific-sounding name - the label, the school, the degree, the diploma - with a 
surprising disregard for underlying value. All about us we see people chasing after 
fixed formulas, credits, marks, ranks, and labels because they believe that if one is to 
have prestige or recognition these distinguishing marks are necessary. In order to 
obtain acceptance, people are prepared to undergo most impractical and stylized 
training and conditioning - not to mention expense - in special schools and 
institutions which promote certain labels, diplomas, and sophisticated facades. 

Not long ago a psychiatric colleague worked in a clinic where a different terminology 
was used, and the ideas of his former teachers, because they were expressed in 
terms other than those of the clinic, were criticized and even vilified. My colleague 
was a good practical therapist; yet he came to need psychotherapy himself, to 
counteract the utter confusion resulting from daily contacts with aggressive adepts of 
a different terminology, just as much as some of our soldiers released from the 
Korean prison camps. 

There is something essentially unpleasant in the need to express and judge all 
opinions and evaluations in accepted cliches and labels. It implies a devaluation of 
the work or of the idea involved, and it denies the subtle human differences between 
people and the phenomena their words describe. In Totalitaria, man is so anxiety- 
ridden, so fearful of any deviation from the prescribed opinions and ways of thinking 
that he only allows himself to express himself in the terms his dictators provide. To 
the citizen of Totalitaria, the acknowledged label becomes more important than the 
eternal variation that is life. 

As words lose their communicative function, they acquire more and more of a 
frightening, regulatory, and conditioning function. Official words must be believed 
and must be obeyed. Dissension and disagreement become both a physical and an 
emotional luxury. Vituperation, and the power that lies behind it, is the only 
sanctioned logic. Facts contrary to the official line are distorted and suppressed; any 
form of mental compromise is treason. In Totalitaria, there is no search for truth, only 
the enforced acceptance of the totalitarian dogmas and cliches. The most frightening 
thing of all is that parallel to the increase in our means of communication, our mutual 
understanding has decreased. A Babel-like confusion has taken hold of political and 
non-political minds as a result of semantic disorder and too much verbal noise. 


The Apostatic Crime in Totalitaria 

Totalitaria makes the thinking man a criminal, for in our mythical country the citizen 
can be punished as much for wrong thinking as for wrongdoing. Because the 
watchful eyes of the secret police are everywhere, the critic of the regime is driven to 
conspiratorial methods if he wants to have even a safe conversation with those he 
wants to trust. What we used to call the "Nazi gesture" was a careful looking around 
before starting to talk to a friend. 

The criminal in Totalitaria can be an accidental scapegoat used for release of official 
hostility, and there is often need for a scapegoat. From one day to the next, a citizen 
can become a hero or a villain, depending on strategic party needs. 

Nearly all of the mature ideals of mankind are crimes in Totalitaria. Freedom and 
independence, compromise and objectivity - all of these are treasonable. In 
Totalitaria there is a new crime, the apostatic crime, which may be described as the 
obstinate refusal to admit imputed guilt. On the other hand, the hero in Totalitaria is 
the converted sinner, the breast-beating, recanting traitor, the self-denouncing 
criminal, the informer, and the stool pigeon. 

The ordinary, law-abiding citizen of Totalitaria, far from being a hero, is potentially 
guilty of hundreds of crimes. He is a criminal if he is stubborn in defense of his own 
point of view. He is a criminal if he refuses to become confused. He is a criminal if he 
does not loudly and vigorously participate in all official acts; reserve, silence, and 
ideological withdrawal are treasonable. He is a criminal if he doesn't LOOK happy, 
for then he is guilty of what the Nazis called physiognomic insubordination. He can 
be a criminal by association or disassociation, by scapegoatism, or by projection, by 
intention or by anticipation. He is a criminal if he refuses to become an informer. He 
can be tried and found guilty by every conceivable "ism" - cosmopolitanism, 
provincialism; deviationalism, mechanism; imperialism, nationalism; pacifism, 
militarism; objectivism, subjectivism; chauvinism, equalitarianism; practicalism, 
idealism. He is guilty every time he IS something. 

The only safe conduct pass for the citizen of Totalitaria lies in the complete 
abdication of his mental integrity. 



For the Special Marine Corps Court of Inquiry in Washington that had to judge one of 
the cases of brainwashing, I was asked, as an expert witness, if I could explain why 
some of the American officers yielded rather easily to mental pressure exerted by the 

It was in the days when Congressional investigations in our country were in full 
swing. In all honesty I had to answer that sometimes coercive suggestions 
underlying such investigations could exert conforming pressure on susceptible 
minds. People are conditioned by numerous psychological processes in our daily 
political atmosphere. 

Though we have been forewarned of what totalitarian techniques may do to the 
mind, there is reason to be alarmed by the possible disruption of values brought 
about by some of our own troubles. 

The totalitarian dictator succeeded in transforming his apparatus of "justice" into an 
instrument of threat and domination. Where once a balanced feeling of justice had 
been recognized as the noblest ideal of civilized man, this ideal was now scoffed at 
by cynics - like Hitler and Goebbels - and called a synthetic emotion useful only to 
impress or appease people. Thus, in the hands of totalitarian inquisitors and judges 
justice has become a farce, a piece of propaganda to soothe the people's 
conscience. Investigative power is misused - to arouse prejudices and animosities in 
those bystanders who have become too confused to distinguish between right and 

The totalitarian has taught us that the courts and the judiciary can be used as tools 
of thought control. That is why we have to study how our own institutions, 
intentionally or unobtrusively, may be used to distort our concepts of democratic 


The Downfall of Justice 

To a psychologist, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Moscow purge trials 
between 1936 and 1938 was the deep sense of moral shock felt by people all over 
the world, whose trust in the judicial process was shaken to its foundations by these 
perversions of justice. Discussions about the trials always concerned themselves 
less with the question of guilt or innocence of the accused than with the horrifying 
travesty of justice the trials presented. Somewhere deep in the soul of men lies the 
conviction that a judge is, by definition, a righteous, impartial man, that an appeal to 
the courts is the road to truth, that the law stands above corruption, degradation, and 

Of course, we recognize that judges are human beings like ourselves, that they can 
make mistakes, as the rest of us do, and we are even willing to accept temporary 
injustice because we believe that there will be eventual vindication and that the rule 
of law and justice will remain triumphant. The moment the judicial process becomes 
a farce, a show to intimidate the people, something in man's soul is profoundly 
affected. When justice is no longer blind, but has her eye on the main chance, we 
become frightened and alarmed. To whom shall a man turn if he cannot find justice 
in the courts? 

During the course of psychotherapy, one of my patients was called to jury duty. The 
experience disturbed him deeply, for apparently the prosecutor in this case was 
more interested in getting a conviction than in finding out the truth. Although the jury 
had the last word, and, by its verdict, condemned the prosecutor's strategy, our juror 
was greatly upset. "What happens," he asked me, "in other cases? Suppose the 
jurors cannot see through the lawyer's sophisms? Suppose they are taken in by his 
constant suggestion and insistence?" 

Indeed, any trial can be used as a weapon of intimidation; it can, in a subtle way, 
intimidate the jurors, the witnesses, the entire public. In Totalitaria, some higher 
courts exist only to carry out this function of intimidation; their purpose is to prove to 
their own citizens and to the world at large that there is a punishing and threatening 
force controlling the government and that this force can use the judiciary for its own 

An apparent objective official investigation may become a weapon of political control 
simply through the suggestions that inevitably accompany it. The man who is under 
investigation is almost automatically stigmatized and blamed because our suspicions 
are thrust on him. The very fact that he is under scrutiny makes him suspect. Thus, 
even the so-called "democratic power to investigate" may become the power to 
destroy. We must beware of this danger! Already the approving or disapproving way 
of interrogation changes man's thinking about facts. 

Any judicial action, whether legal or investigative, which receives widespread 
publicity, exerts some mental pressure on the entire public. It is not only the 
participants in the action who have a stake in its eventual outcome, the citizens as a 
whole may well become emotionally involved in the proceedings. 


Any official investigation can be either a mere show of power or an act of truth. As a 
show of power, by a totalitarian government or by an unscrupulous demagogue, it 
can have frightening consequences. The German Reichstag fire case, the Moscow 
purge trials, and the court actions against our P.O.W.s in China are prime examples 
of "legal" action which served to consolidate the political power of ruthless men and 
had for their object confusion of a helpless citizenry. An additional intention was to 
shock the public opinion of the world. 

If we look at legal inquiry from the point of view of each of its participants, we will see 
even more clearly the dangers we must guard against. 


The Demagogue as Prosecutor and Hypnotist 

Recent happenings in our own country indicate clearly that the methods used to 
satisfy a question for power show a universal pattern. The ancient magic masks 
used to frighten the people may have been replaced by an overconfident show of 
physical strength by a "hero" artificially shaped as an object of admiration and 
identification for infantile minds, but the loud noises of propaganda are still with us, 
magnified a thousandfold by the radio and television, and serving to intimidate and 
hypnotize our less alert contemporaries. A worldwide audience, watching and 
listening to the demagogue playing all his different roles -- the righteous accuser, the 
martyred victim, the voice of conscience - is temporarily thrown into a semi- 
frightened, trancelike state of exhausted inattentiveness through the monotonous 
repetition of threats, accusations, and cliches. 

The demagogue, like the totalitarian dictator, knows well how to lay a mental spell on 
the people, how to create a kind of mass suggestion and mass hypnosis. There is no 
intrinsic difference between individual and mass hypnosis. In hypnosis - the most 
intensified form of suggestion - the individual becomes temporarily automatized, both 
physically and mentally. Such a clinical state of utter mental submission can be 
brought about quite easily in children and in primitive people, but it can be created in 
civilized adults, too. Some of the American P.O.W.s in Korean prison camps were 
reduced to precisely this condition. 

The more the individual feels himself to be part of the group, the more easily can he 
become the victim of mass suggestion. This is why primitive communities, which 
have a high degree of social integration and identification, are so sensitive to 
suggestions. Sorcerers and magicians can often keep an entire tribe under their 

Most crowds are rather easy to influence and hypnotize because common longings 
and yearnings increase the suggestibility of each member of the group. Each person 
has a tendency to identify with the rest of the group and with the leader as well, and 
this makes it easy for the leader to hold the people in his grip. As Hitler said in "Mein 
Kampf," the leader can count on increasing submissiveness from the masses. 

Sudden fright, fear, and terror were the old-fashioned methods used to induce 
hypnosis, and they are still used by dictators and demagogues. Threats, unexpected 
accusations, even long speeches and boredom may overwhelm the mind and reduce 
it to a hypnotic state. 

Another easy technique is to work with specially suggestive words, repeating them 
monotonously. Arouse self-pity! Tell the people that they have been "betrayed" and 
that their leaders have deserted them. From time to time, the demagogue has to add 
a few jokes. People like to laugh. They also like to be horrified, and the macabre, 
especially, attracts them. Tell them gory tales and let them huddle together in 
sensational tension. They will probably develop an enormous awe for the man who 
frightens them and will be willing to give him the chance to lead them out of their 
emotional terror. In the yearning to be freed from one fear, they may be willing to 
surrender completely to another. 


Radio and television have enhanced the hypnotizing power of sounds, images, and 
words. Most Americans remember very clearly that frightening day in 1938 when 
Orson Welles's broadcast of the invasion from Mars sent hundreds of people 
scurrying for shelter, running from their homes like panicky animals trying to escape 
a forest fire. The Welles broadcast is one of the clearest examples of the enormous 
hypnosuggestive power of the various means of mass communication, and the 
tremendous impact that authoritatively broadcast nonsense can have on intelligent, 
normal people. 

It is not only the suggestive power of these media that gives them their hypnotizing 
effect. Our technical means of communication make of the people one huge 
participating mass. Even when I am alone with my radio, I am technically united with 
the huge mass of other listeners. I see them in my mind, I unconsciously identify with 
them, and while I am listening I am one with them. Yet I have no direct emotional 
contact with them. It is partly for this reason that radio and television tend to take 
away active affectionate relationships between men and to destroy the capacity for 
personal thought, evaluation, and reflection. They catch the mind directly, giving 
people no time for calm, dialectical conversation with their own minds, with their 
friends, or with their books. The voices from the ether don't permit the freedom- 
arousing mutuality of free conversation and discussion, and thus provoke greater 
passive acceptance - as in hypnosis. 

Many people are hypnophiles, anxious to daydream and day-sleep throughout their 
lives; these people easily fall prey to mass suggestion. The lengthy oration or the 
boring sermon either weakens the listeners and makes them more ripe for the mass 
spell, or makes them more resentful and rebellious. Long speeches are a staple of 
totalitarian indoctrination because finally the boredom breaks through our defences. 
We give in. Hitler used this technique of mass hypnosis through monotony to 
enormous advantage. He spoke endlessly and included long, dull recitals of statistics 
in his speeches. 

The din of constant verbal intimidation of the public is a recognized tool of totalitarian 
strategy. The demagogue uses this suggestive technique, too, as well as the more 
tricky manoeuvre of attacking opponents who are usually considered to be beyond 
suspicion. This manoeuvre is often combined with a renewed appeal to self-pity. 
"Fourteen years of disgrace and shame," was the slogan Hitler used to slander the 
very creative period between the Armistice in 1918 and the year he seized the helm. 
"Twenty years of treason," a slogan used in our country not too long ago, sounds 
suspiciously like it, and is all too familiar to anyone who watched Hitler's rise and fall. 

The stab-in-the-back myth reduces everyone who is taken in by it to the level of 
suspicious childhood. This inflammatory oratory aims toward arousing chaotic and 
aggressive responses in others. The demagogue doesn't mind temporary verbal 
attacks on himself - even slander can delight him - because these attacks keep him 
in the headlines and in the public eye and may help increase people's fear of him. 
Better to be hated and feared than forgotten! 


The demagogue grows fat on prolonged and confused discussion of his behaviour; it 
serves to paralyze the people's minds and to obscure completely the real issues 
behind his red herrings. If this continues long enough, people become fed up, they 
give in, they want to sleep, they are willing to let the big "hero" take over. And the 
sequel can be totalitarianism. As a matter of fact, Nazism and Fascism both gambled 
on the fear of Communism as a means of seizing power for themselves. 

What we have recently experienced in this country is frighteningly similar to the first 
phase of the deliberate totalitarian attack on the mind by slogans and suspicions. 
Violent, raucous noise provokes violent emotional reactions and destroys mental 
control. When the demagogue starts to rant and rave, his outbursts tend to be 
interpreted by the general public as proof of his sincerity and dedication. But for the 
most part such declarations are proof of just the opposite and are merely part of the 
demagogue's power-seeking energy. 

There is in existence a totalitarian "Document of Terror" which discusses in detail the 
use of well-planned, repeated successive WAVES OF TERROR to bring the people 
into submission. Each wave of terrorizing cold war creates its effect more easily ~ 
after a breathing spell - than the one that preceded it because people are still 
disturbed by their previous experience. Morale becomes lower and lower, and the 
psychological effect of each new propaganda campaign becomes stronger; it 
reaches a public already softened up. Every dissenter becomes more and more 
frightened that he may be found out. Gradually people are no longer willing to 
participate in any sort of political discussion or to express their opinions. Inwardly 
they have already surrendered to the terrorizing dictatorial forces. 

We must learn to treat the demagogue and aspirant dictator in our midst just as we 
should treat our external enemies in a cold war - with the weapon of ridicule. The 
demagogue himself is almost incapable of humour of any sort, and if we treat him 
with humour, he will begin to collapse. Humour is, after all, related to a sense of 
perspective. If we can see how things should be, we can see how askew they can 
get, and we can recognize distortion when we are confronted with it. Put the 
demagogue's statements in perspective, and you will see how utterly distorted they 
are. How can we possibly take them seriously or answer them seriously? We have 
important business to attend to - matters of life and death both for ourselves as 
individuals and for our nation as a whole. The demagogue relies for his effectiveness 
on the fact that people will take seriously the fantastic accusations he makes; will 
discuss the phony issues he raises as if they had reality, or will be thrown into such a 
state of panic by his accusations and charges that they will simply abdicate their right 
to think and verify for themselves. 

The fact is that the demagogue is not appealing to what is rational and mature in 
man; he is appealing to what is most irrational and most immature. To attempt to 
answer his ravings with logic is to attempt the impossible. First of all, by so doing we 
accept his battling premises, and we find ourselves trapped in an argument on terms 
he has chosen. It is always easier to defeat an enemy on your own ground, and by 
choosing your own terms. In addition, the demagogue either is, or pretends to be, 
incapable of the kind of logic that makes discussion and clarification possible. 


He is a master at changing the subject. It is worse than criminal for us to get 
ourselves involved in endless, pointless, and inevitably vituperative arguments with 
men who are less concerned with truth, social good, and real problems than they are 
with gaining unlimited attention and power for themselves. 

In their defense against psychological attacks on their freedom, the people need 
humour and good sense first. Consistent approval or silent acceptance of any terror- 
provoking strategy will result only in the downfall of our democratic system. 
Confusion undermines confidence. In a country like ours, where it is up to the voting 
public to discern the truth, a universal knowledge of the methods used by the 
demagogue to deceive or to lull the public is absolutely necessary. 


The Trial as an Instrument of Intimidation 

Man's suggestibility can be a severe liability to him and to his democratic freedom in 
still another important respect. Even when there is no deliberate attempt to 
manipulate public opinion, the uncontrolled discussion of legal actions, such as 
political or criminal trials, in newspaper headlines and in partisan columns helps to 
create a collective emotional atmosphere. This makes it difficult for those directly 
involved to maintain their much-needed objectivity and to render a verdict according 
to facts rather than suggestions and subjective experiences. 

In addition, any judicial process which receives widespread publicity exerts mental 
pressure on the public at large. Thus, not only the participants but the entire citizenry 
can become emotionally involved in the proceedings. Any trial can be either an act of 
power or an act of truth. An apparently objective examination may become a weapon 
of control simply by the action of the suggestions that inevitably accompany it. As an 
act of power by a totalitarian government, the trial can have frightening 
consequences. The Moscow purge trials and the German Reichstag fire case are 
prime examples. 

We do not, of course, have such horrifying travesties on justice in this country, but 
our tendency to turn legal actions into a field day for the newspapers, the radio, and 
television weakens our capacity to arrive at justice and truth. It would be better if we 
postponed discussion of the merits of any legal case until after the verdict was in. 
As we have already seen, any man can be harassed into a confession. The cruel 
process of menticide is not the only way to arrive at this goal; a man can be held 
guilty merely by accusation, especially when he is too weak to oppose the impact of 
collective ire and public opinion. 

In circumstances of abnormal fear and prejudice, men feel the need for a scapegoat 
more strongly than at other times. Consequently, people can be easily duped by 
false accusations which satisfy their need to have someone to blame. Victims of 
lynch mobs in our own country have been thus sacrificed to mass passion and so 
have some so-called traitors and collaborators. In public opinion, the trial itself 
becomes the verdict of "guilty." 


The Congressional Investigation 

Let me first state that I firmly believe that the right of the Congress to investigate and 
to propose legislation on the basis of such investigation is one of the most important 
of our democratic safeguards. But like any other human institution, the 
Congressional right to investigate can be abused and misused. The power to 
investigate may become the power to destroy -- not only the man under attack, but 
also the mental integrity of those who, in one way or another, are witnesses to the 
investigation. In a subtle way, the current wave of Congressional investigations may 
have a coercive effect on our citizenry. Some dictatorial personalities are obsessed 
with a morbid need to investigate, and Congressional investigations are made to 
order for them. Everybody who does not agree with them, who does not bow low and 
submit, is suspect, and is subjected to a flow of vilification and vituperation. The 
tendency on the part of the public is to disbelieve everything that the demagogue's 
opponents say and to swallow uncritically the statements made by those who either 
surrender to his browbeating or go along with it because they believe in the aims he 
pretends to stand for. 

INFLUENCE. As soon as a man is under cross-examination, he may become 
paralyzed by the procedure and find himself confessing to deeds he never did. In a 
country where the urge to investigate spreads, suspicion and insecurity grow. 
Everybody becomes infected with the feelings of the omnipotence of the inquisitor. 
Wire tapping, for instance, has the same power; it is grasping the secrets of others. 
In psychological circles a good deal of attention is now being given to the impact of 
interviews and interrogations on people. The psychological interviewer himself must 
be aware of the various interpersonal processes involved in this kind of 
communication; if he is not, he will not be able to find out where the truth lies. 

Instead he will get answers which are implicit in his own questions, answers which 
may have little relation to the real truth. This does not happen only in cases where 
both the interviewer and the man he is interviewing show bad faith. It can happen 
despite their best intentions. For everybody brings to an interview the sum total of all 
his earlier interpersonal relationships. In the initial verbal "trial and error," during what 
we could call the smelling-out period, each party mobilizes himself to find out what 
the other party expects and where his weaknesses are and, at the same time, tries 
to hide his own weaknesses and emphasize his own strengths. The man in the street 
who is suddenly interviewed tends to give the answer he thinks his questioner 

Every conversation, every verbal relationship repeats, at least to some degree, the 
pattern of the early verbal relationships between the child and its parents. To a man 
or woman under investigation, the interrogator becomes the parent, good or bad, an 
object of suspicion or of submission. Since the interrogator himself is often unaware 
of this unconscious process, the result can be a confusing battle of unconscious or 
half-conscious tendencies, in which the spoken words are often merely a cover for 
suspicion-laden conversation between deeper layers of both personalities. 


All people who are systematically interrogated, whether in a court, during a 
Congressional inquiry, or even when applying for a job or having a medical 
examination, feel themselves exposed. This very fact in itself provokes peculiar 
defensive mental attitudes. These attitudes may be useful and protective, but at 
times they may be harmful to the individual. When a man is looking for a job, for 
example, he may become overeager, and in his zeal to "make a good impression" to 
"put his best foot forward," he may make a bad impression and arouse suspicion. 
For it is not only what we say but the way we say it that can indicate our honesty and 
poise. Nervous sounds, gestures, pauses, moments of silence or stuttering may give 
us away. Aggressive zeal may seduce us into saying too much. Inhibition may 
prevent us from saying enough. 

The defendant in a court action or in an inquiry is defensive not only about the 
accusations levelled against him or the questions he has to answer, he is even more 
defensive about his own unconscious guilt and about his doubts about his own 
capabilities. Many of my colleagues in medicine and psychiatry who have been 
called as expert witnesses in legal actions have told me that the very moment they 
were under cross-examination, they felt themselves on trial and nearly convicted. 
Cross- examination seemed to them often less a way of getting at the truth than a 
form of emotional coercion, which did a great disservice to both the facts and the 
truth. This is the reason that every kind of investigative power can so easily become 
a coercive power. Making witnesses and defendants suffer from acute stage fright 
can be a nasty weapon of totalitarianism. 

Because psychologists and psychiatrist appreciate these facts, there is now a strong 
tendency in these circles to use what we might call a passive technique in 
interviewing. When the interviewer's questions are not directed toward any specific 
answer, the man being questioned will be encouraged to answer on his own 
initiative, out of his own desire to communicate. The neutral question, "What did you 
do afterwards?" provokes a freer and more honest response than the question "Did 
you go home after that?" 


The Witness and His Subjective Testimony 

We have seen in recent years a long parade of recanting Communists, who have 
testified freely and openly about their pasts. Currently, we have still another kind of 
parade: the recanting recanters. How are we to know the truth from falsehood in all 
this morass of conflicting testimony? How are we to prevent ourselves from 
becoming confused by the contradictory testimony of men and women whose words 
can influence the course of our nation's actions? How are we to learn to evaluate 
what they say? Psychologically, how reliable is their testimony, whether friendly or 

In general, we can say that those who are most vituperative in their statements are 
usually the least reliable. Many of them are men and women who in the past adopted 
a totalitarian ideology out of their own deep sense of inner insecurity. Later there 
came the moment when they felt that their chosen ideology had failed them. Though 
it had held their minds relentlessly imprisoned for a long time, at that point they were 
able to throw off the system completely. This they did through a process of inner 
rearrangement of old observations and convictions. However, what they shed was 
merely a particular set of rigid ideological rules. Most of them did not shed, along 
with these rules, their hidden hatreds and early insecurity. They may have given up 
the political ideology which offered them defences and justifications, but they 
retained their resentments. 

It is extremely common to find such people seeking immediate sanctuary in some 
other strictly organized institution. Because they now see things in a different light, 
old facts and concepts acquire a different significance. Yet, all the while, the ever- 
present urge toward self-justification and self-exculpation, which operates in all men 
and which in these cases motivated the former allegiance to Communism, is at work. 
Now they must prove their guiltlessness and their loyalty to their newly adopted 
ideas. Their emotions, now in new garb, are still directed toward the goal of self- 

In the eyes of the convert, the fresh outlook - this new arrangement of inner 
demands and of ways of satisfying them - is just as logical and rational as were his 
former set of expectations and satisfactions. Now he rediscovers several 
experiences long since past. His former friends become his enemies; some of them 
are seen as conspirators, whether they were or not. He himself is unable to 
distinguish between truth and fantasy, between fact and subjective demand. 
Consequently, a complete distortion of perceptions and memories may take place. 
He may misquote his own memories, and this process is for the most part one of 
which the convert himself is not aware. I remember vividly one example of such 
behaviour during the Second World War. A former Nazi became a courageous 
member of the anti-Nazi underground. He sought to rectify his past behaviour not 
only by fighting the Nazis, but also by spreading all kinds of anxiety-provoking 
rumours about his former friends. By making them appear more cruel, he thought he 
could show himself more loyal. 


Similarly, the denials and misstatements that may be made by the convert before the 
courts or the Congressional committees are often not so much conscious falsehoods 
as they are products of the new inner arrangements. Every accusation about the 
convert's past may be twisted by him into a new tool for use in the process of self- 
justification. Only a few such men have the moral courage to admit that they have 
made real mistakes in the past. The distance between a white lie and selective 
forgetting and repressing is often very short. I discovered this for myself while 
carrying on investigations of resistance members who had been in Nazi hands. I 
found that it was almost impossible to obtain objective information from them about 
what they had revealed to the enemy after torture. Reporting upon their enforced 
betrayal, they immediately colored their stories by white lies and secondary 
distortions. Depending on their guilt feelings, they either accused themselves too 
much or found no flaw at all in their behaviour. 


The Right to Be Silent 

Out of the action of Congressional investigating committees has recently come a 
serious legal attack on the right to be silent when the giving of information clashes 
with the conscience of the one on the stand. This attack can become a serious 
invasion of human privacy and reserve. Undermining the value of the personality and 
of private conscience is as dangerous to the preservation of democracy as is the 
threat of totalitarian aggression. 

We have to realize that it is often difficult for witnesses to make a choice between 
contempt of Congress and contempt of human qualities. Administrators may 
conceivably discover a few alleged "traitors" by compelling witnesses to betray their 
former friends, but at the same time they compel people to betray friendships. 
Friendship is one of our most precious human possessions. Any government or 
agency that, under the guise of "contempt of Congress," can force confessions, and 
information can also force the betrayal of former loyalties. Is this not comparable with 
what the coercive totalitarians do? And at what cost? 

We obtain a pseudo-purge resulting from weakness of character and anxiety in the 
victim. In addition we violate one of democracy's basic tenets -- respect for the 
strength of man's character. We have always believed that it is better to let ten guilty 
men go free than to hang one innocent -- in direct opposition to the totalitarian 
concept that it is better to hang ten innocent men than to let one guilty man go free. 
We may punish the guilty with this strategy of compelling a man to speak when his 
conscience urges him to be silent, but just as surely we break down the innocent by 
destroying their conscience. Supreme Court Justices Douglas and Black in their 
dissenting opinion about the constitutionality of the Immunity Act of 1954 (See "The 
New York Times," March 27, 1956) emphasize the right to be silent as a 
Constitutional right given by the Fifth Amendment - a safeguard of personal 
conscience and personal dignity and freedom of expression as well. It is beyond the 
power of Congress to compel anyone to confess his crimes even when immunity is 

The individual's need NOT to betray his former allegiances - even when he has 
made a mistake in political judgment at an age of less understanding - is morally just 
as important as the need to help the state locate subversives. Let us not forget that 
betrayal of the community is rooted in self-betrayal. By forcing a man to betray his 
inner feelings and himself, we actually make it easier for him to betray the larger 
community at some future date. If the law forces people to betray their inner moral 
feelings of friendship, even if these feelings are based on juvenile loyalties, then that 
very law undermines the integrity of the person, and coercion and menticide begin. 
The conscience of the individual plays an enormous role in the choice between loyal 
opposition and passive conformity. The law has to protect the individual also against 
the violation of his personal moral standards; otherwise, human conscience will lose 
in the battle between individual conscience and legal power. Moral evaluation starts 
with the individual and not with the state. 


Mental Blackmail 

The concept of brainwashing has already led to some legal implications, and these 
have led to new facets of imagined crime. Because the reports about Communist 
brainwashing of the prisoners of war in Korea and China were published widely in 
newspapers, they aroused anxieties among lay people. As mentioned in Chapter 
Three, several schizophrenics and borderline patients seized upon this rather new 
concept of brainwashing, using it as an explanation for a peculiar kind of delusion 
that beset them -- the delusion of being influenced. Some of these persons had, as it 
were, the feeling that their minds had been laid open, as if from the outside, through 
radio waves or some other mystic communication, thoughts were being directed. 
During recent years, I received several letters from such patients complaining about 
their feelings of continual brainwashing. The new concept of political mental coercion 
fitted into their system of delusions. Several lawyers consulted me for information 
about clients who wanted to sue their imaginary brainwashers. 

The same concept, used above to account for pathological suspicions, could be 
used maliciously to accuse and sue anybody who professionally gave advice to 
people or tried to influence them. At this very moment (fall, 1955) several court 
procedures are going on wherein the defendants are being sued for the crime of 
brainwashing by a third party. They are accused of having advised, in their 
professional capacity, somebody to do something against the plaintiff's interests. The 
shyster lawyer is now able to attack subtle human relationships and turn them into a 
corrupt matter. This is the age-old evil of using empathy not for sympathy but for 
antipathy and attack. In so doing, the accuser may misuse a man's hesitation to 
bring these human relationships into the open; the accuser also makes use of the 
strange situation in the United States that even the innocent winner of a court 
procedure has to pay the cost of his legal help. Practically, this means that in a 
difficult judicial question, he has to pay at least thirty thousand dollars before he can 
reach the Supreme Court -- if it is a Supreme Court case -- and appeal to the highest 
form of justice in our country. 

Because of this new angle, which has developed during the past few years, of the 
brainwashing situation, the psychiatric profession has been made more vulnerable to 
unreasonable attack. In one case, a third party felt hurt by a psychological treatment 
that made the patient more independent in an unpleasant commercial situation in 
which he had formerly been rather submissive. In another case, the doctor was sued 
because he was able to free his patient from a submissive love affair and an 
ambiguous promise of marriage. In a third case, the patient during treatment 
changed from a commercial agency that had treated him badly. In all those cases, 
the disappointed party could bring suit on the basis of so-called brainwashing, and 
malicious influence. In several cases of this form of blackmail, an expensive 
settlement was made out of court because the court procedure would have become 
far more costly. 

The practicing psychiatrist who is attacked in this way experiences not only financial 
pressure imposed on him by the dissatisfied party and a malicious lawyer, but in 
several states the court does not even recognize his professional oath of secrecy. 
The Hippocratic oath says: 


Whatever, in connection with my professional practice, or not in connection with it, I 
may see or hear in the lives of men which ought not to be spoken abroad, I will not 
divulge, as reckoning that all such should be kept secret. 

Some courts hold that the only physical investigation and treatment are valid as 
medical treatment not to be divulged; personal conversation - the quintessence of 
psychiatric treatment -- is not looked upon as a medical action. Hiding behind 
professional secrecy is regarded as contempt of court. An additional difficulty is that 
this accusation of malpractice by a third party - not by the patient himself - is not 
covered by the usual malpractice insurance. 

The importance of such perfidious attack on psychological relationships - however 
rare the number of cases may be at this moment - is that it opens the road for many 
other forms of mental blackmail. It means that subtle personal relationships can be 
attacked and prosecuted in court, merely because a third party feels excluded or 
neglected or financially damaged. I cannot sue my broker because he gave me 
wrong financial advice, but I can sue a psychological counsellor for malpractice 
because he "brainwashed" my client. 

What new possibilities for mental blackmail and sly accusation are open! Gradually 
we can make punishable wrong intention and anticipation, nonconformist advice and 
guidance, and, in the end, simple honest human influence and originality -- things 
that are already considered criminal in totalitarian countries. 

The word "blackmail" was originally used in the border warfare between England and 
Scotland. Blackmail was the agreement made by freebooters not to plunder or 
molest the farmer - in exchange for money or cattle. The word comes from the 
Middle English "maille" meaning speech or rent or tax. 

The French equivalent "chantage" brings us even nearer to the concept of mental 
coercion. It means forcing the other fellow "to sing," to confess things against his will 
by means of threatening physical punishment or threatening to reveal a secret. It is, 
in the last analysis, mental coercion. 

We may call mental blackmail the growing tendency to overstep human reserve and 
dignity. It is the tendency to misuse the intimate knowledge of what is going on in the 
crevices of the soul, to injure and embarrass one's fellow man. MENTAL 
PLACE OF PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE. The hunting up of dirt and sensation 
in order to embarrass a victim we see very often carried on by the yellow press. It is 
not only playing up indecency, but at the same time it undermines human judgment 
and opinion. And by its sensationalism is precludes and prejudices justice in the 

What a weak baby accomplishes with its tears and pouting can be done by the 
whining, querulous accuser with his fantasies about malicious influence and 
brainwashing. The suicidal patient may exert the same kind of pressure. 


I am convinced that in the future the Supreme Court has to make rules which will 
control these new forms of indictment; yet the core of the problem is the growing 
suspicion within man in our era of transition. We blackmail men's minds with too 
many security measures, with secret files; we blackmail with gossip, with subtle 
pressures within political pressure groups, with lobbies within lobbies, and even by 
withholding our friendship. 


The Judge and the Jury 

What about the people who are called upon to sift truth from falsehood, to arrive at 
just and impartial verdicts? The judge and the jury are themselves influenced and 
affected by the external facts and inner needs that lie behind the behaviour of the 
other principals in the case. Yet they are supposed to rise above their background, 
their personal needs and desires and to render a verdict strictly on the evidence, 
unswayed by any prejudice or subjective desires. And let us bear in mind that it is 
not only those officially connected with a case who make a decision about it, it is 
everyone who knows about it. You and I, the public, are judge and jury too. 

Judge and jury face the difficult task of finding and asking on the basis of the facts 
alone, and yet even in them, under the influence of strong group emotions, an 
emotional rearrangement of remembered facts may take place. 

Judge and jurors are affected by the collective emotional atmosphere surrounding 
controversial issues, and it is difficult for them to maintain their much-needed 
objectivity. The average juror already submits to the popular emotional demand 
before the trial is started, as several trials about racial persecution proved. 

Lately two authorities on law attacked the system of trial by jury, one because of its 
delaying action on the process of justice (Peck) and the other because he 
considered it an outmoded means of administering justice (Newman). Trial by jury is 
a relic of the thirteenth century intended to replace the magic trial by ordeal - the 
gods and coincidence decided the guilt - and to replace the trial by battle - physical 
skill and power decided which of two parties was guilty. The trial by a jury of peers, 
by all those who knew the accused and the circumstances of the alleged crime, 
served its purpose in rather simple organized communities for a long time. 

But in our complicated society, where people know less about each other and where 
a thousandfold communications intrude the mind, things have changed. "The 
average juror is swayed by the emotion and prejudice of his heredity and 
background training." (Newman) Our juries are not always able to follow the 
intricacies of pros and cons, of interpretation of facts. In addition, many a trial lawyer 
knows how to fascinate a jury, how to catch their minds and influence their judgment. 
Beyond this, the selection of jurors delays more and more the process of justice. 

As a simple example of how individual, personal, and social conditioning can affect a 
juror's current reactions, let us look at the inner confusion usually caused by the 
word "traitor." Here we have an emotionally loaded trigger-word. If somebody is 
accused of being a traitor or a subversive, on the basis of undeniable facts, any 
attempt at a scientific, psychological explanation of this person's behaviour is already 
considered a treacherous intellectualism. The consensus is that the traitor should be 
punished; he belongs to the scum of society, better let him die. Even the lawyer who 
defends him before the court may be accused of collaboration in treason. 


All of us know many other trigger words which immediately provoke confusion in our 
objective perception and judgment because they touch unsolved, unconscious 
feelings. Words like "Communist" and "homosexual," for instance, can become 
confusing trigger words which bring a reservoir of dark feelings into action. 
Demagogues like to use such words in order to stir up mass feelings, which they 
cannot control but which they believe are very suitable for the strategy of the 
moment. This can become, however, like playing with dynamite. Any one of us may 
be swayed by allusive cliches such as "Where there's smoke, there's fire" or "Once a 
thief, always a thief." I once saw this most interestingly in a hot debate where 
someone had once been scolded for being a "dirty monogamist." As soon as the 
accusation was made, public opinion turned against him. 

Even a judge can be swayed by his own emotional difficulties, especially by slanted 
testimony of witnesses who may be attempting to mislead. In Great Britain the courts 
are more aware of the effect of a prejudicial attitude on the part of jurors. There the 
trial process is extensively protected, mostly through prevention of pre-trial 
discussion and deliberation, regardless of the unpopularity of the accused. 


Televised Interrogation 

An open official interrogation affects those who watch it - and the fact that they are 
affected may influence its outcome. Various crime hearings in this country, for 
instance, were brought before the people by means of television. Citizens sitting 
comfortably at home far from the scene could see how defense lawyers manoeuvred 
facts or instructed their clients (among whom were well-known crime bosses) so that 
they would appear in a favourable light. Even though their actions may have been 
transparent tricks with the appearance of a fixed wrestling match, the result was that 
some of the not-so-jovial-looking victims of the criminals were made ridiculous, while 
the criminals, calm, assured, self-possessed, seemed more admirable. The victims 
often couldn't stand being in the limelight; it made them feel ill at east and 

The criminals, on the other hand, either denied every accusation in tones of 
righteous indignation or made confessions which degenerated into hysterical quests 
for pity. The magic effect of all the anonymous onlookers ~ because the witness or 
defendant imagined their approval or disapproval - influenced the outcome of the 
hearings. All of us who watched them brought our own subjective expectations to 
bear on these hearings. 

Television makes a mass trial of such a hearing, and unwittingly not justice but the 
variable feelings of the public become part of the courtroom atmosphere. Every 
piece of evidence in such a hearing is colored by rumour and emotion, and the 
shocked onlookers are left with feelings of suspicion and deep misgivings that the 
hearing has not really gotten down to the condemning facts. 


The Quest for Detachment 

Man's feeling for justice has very subtle implications. As soon as "Justitia" flirts with 
powerful friends or becomes completely submissive, people feel insecure and their 
anxiety increases. But man's feeling for justice needs more than mere security for its 
satisfaction and gratification. The sense of justice is an inner attitude aiming at the 
realization of ideal rules of law that can inspire the community and raise it to a higher 
moral level. It requires not merely that minimum of decent behaviour that is enforced 
by law, but more than that a maximum of personal initiative and mutual fair play. It 
asks for personal and social justice, for mutual limitation of demands in the service of 
the mutuality of relations between men, and between men and their government. 
Any ideal feeling of justice requires sacrifice and implies self-limitation. Emotionalism 
is its enemy. This ideal of justice is not only valid for individuals but should also rule 
communities and countries. Only in such an atmosphere of free mutual sacrifice of 
power on behalf of growing justice can democracy grow. 

Can people learn to see objectively and in a manner detached from their personal 
feelings? Yes, they can. Preconceived ways of seeing and witnessing can be 
changed. Many people realize the damage men do to themselves and others when 
they submit to collective passion and prejudice. These people then learn through 
astute investigation and observation how to be less prejudiced, how to see events 
with constant re-adaptation of mind and eye and with a search for reality. 

Prisoners in concentration camps or P.O.W. camps are so constantly bombarded 
with rumours and suggestions, their observations are so distorted by their necessary 
self-defences, that they are hardly able to give an objective report regarding the 
actions of their fellows. The mass attitude of the day directs their opinions. The fellow 
who has become a scapegoat, whose function it is to alleviate for his fellow prisoners 
their common anger, will never be able to neutralize all later reports about him, 
simply because the number of so-called objective witnesses is against him. 

It is very difficult to separate the rumours from the facts and to neutralize ingrown 
mental toenails. There is in man an instinctual need to take sides with the majority, to 
conform to the opinion of the strong. This need is rooted in a biological urge for 
safety. That is why a strong feeling of participation grew among soldiers in a P.O.W. 
camp. The result was complete unconscious falsification of what happened. The 
individual observation got lost in the strong impact of mass opinion. 

In the future age of psychology, when insight into man's behaviour is more generally 
understood and applied, we will be more aware of the importance of dependable 
witnesses. Every report and every piece of testimony pro or con will be examined 
and weighed in the light of its psychological and historical background. The citizen of 
the future will laugh as he looks back at the time once lost during trials because 
obvious facts on one side were not brought out to challenge equally obvious facts on 
the opposing side. These future citizens will understand that we only revealed our 
mutual hostilities and feelings of fear and insecurity by our behaviour, feelings which 
moved us compulsively and subtly to make subjective rearrangements of our 
memories and impressions. He will point out that objective thinking was in its infancy 
in those days. 



The Fear of Living 

In our era the fear aroused by human relationships is so strong that inertia and 
mental death often seem more attractive than mental alertness and life. Classical 
psychology often spoke of the fear of death and the great unknown as the cause of 
many anxieties, but modern psychological studies have shown us that the fear of 
living is a much greater, deeper, and more frightening one. 

Living often seems beyond our power. Stepping out of a relatively safe childish 
dependence into freedom and responsibility is both hazardous and dangerous. 
Living demands activity and spontaneity, trial and error, sleeping and reawakening, 
competition and cooperation, adaptation and reorientation. Living involves manifold 
relationships, each of which has thousands of implications and complications. 

Living takes us away from the dream of being protected and demands that we 
expose our weaknesses and strengths daily to our fellow men, with all their hostilities 
as well as their affections. It requires us to build up useful defences and then to 
replace them with others because we have to change our goals and our 
relationships. It expects us to be lonely in order to cooperate in freedom. It asks us to 
submit and to conquer, to adjust and to rebel. It robs us of our childhood slumber of 
satisfaction, and of the magic, omnipotent fantasies of our infancy. 

Living requires mutuality of giving and taking. Above all, to live is to love. And many 
people are afraid to take the responsibility of loving, of having an emotional 
investment in their fellow beings. They want only to be loved and to be protected; 
they are afraid of being hurt and rejected. We can see this clearly in the fact that so 
many people embrace so fervently all the limitations and frustrations of life that are 
offered them-the neurotic limitations of the usual prejudices or the totalitarian 
limitations imposed by power politics. In his book Escape from Freedom, Erich 
Fromm describes clearly how the pressures of freedom, when they are not balanced 
by responsibility and understanding, can drive men into the totalitarian frame of mind 
and into surrender of their hard-won liberties. Such surrender is nothing less than a 
slow mental death. 

Totalitarian leaders, whether of the right or of the left, know better than anyone else 
how to make use of this fear of living. They thrive on chaos and bewilderment. 
During unrest in international politics, they are most at ease. The strategy of fear is 
one of their most valuable tactics. The growing complications of our civilization and 
its administration make the impact of power politics felt more than ever before. When 
the totalitarians add to their tactics all the clever tricks that we have already 
discussed Pavlovian conditioning, repeated suggestion, de-conditioning through 
boredom and physical degradation-they can win their battle for the control of man's 


In the earlier chapters of this book we described in some detail the techniques by 
which man could be turned into a robot in the service of totalitarianism and some of 
the tendencies that operate, even in the free countries, to rob man of his mental 
integrity. It is important for us to realize that emphasis on conformity and the fear of 
spontaneous living can have an effect almost as devastating as the totalitarian's 
deliberate assault on the mind. Conformity and the fear of living rob the free way of 
life of its greatest asset in the struggle against totalitarianism. 

Our human strength lies in our diversity and independence of thought, in our 
acceptance of nonconformity, in our willingness to discuss and to evaluate various 
conflicting points of view. In denying the diversities of life and the complexity and 
individuality of the human mind, in preaching rigid dogmas and self-righteousness, 
we begin gradually to adopt the totalitarian attitude we deplore. Delusion has never 
been the exclusive property of any one country, class, or group, and the totalitarian 
delusion, which in itself promotes menticide, can invade us from many fronts, from 
the right as well as the left, from the rich or from the underprivileged, from the 
conservatives and from the rebels. 

Fear and intimidation have not only been the result but also the tools of mental 
coercion. Although there is as yet no unified theory of fear and anxiety, and we 
therefore do not know precisely why and how the development of these feelings 
leads to such dire consequences, it is important for us to understand what useful 
tools fear and panic are, and to see, through description, what these overwhelming 
emotions are able to do to people. 

Most people think of fear reactions as hysterical expressions of desperation. But, as 
this chapter should make clear, fear and panic also have their paradoxical 
expressions in indifference and apathy, reactions which, just because they are less 
commonly recognized as fear-created, can be much more dangerous to the 
individual than a good hysterical cry. It is the hidden, silent fears that have such an 
impact on our social and political behaviour. Fear and panic are reactions not only to 
overt danger and threat, they are also reactions to the slow, seeping intrusion of 
disquieting propaganda and the constant wave of suggestion to which we are all 
exposed. Fear is at work all around us, and often it throws its shadows where we 
least expect to find them. We may be acting out of fear without even knowing it; we 
may consider that our behaviour is perfectly normal and rational when, in fact, 
psychology tells us that creeping fear may already have begun to work on us. 

Fear and catastrophe fortify the need to identify with a strong leader. They lead to 
herding together of people, who shy away from wanting to be individual cells any 
longer; they prefer to be part of a huge mystic social organization that protects 
against threat and distress, in oneness with the leader. This protection -seeking 
instinctual reaction is also directed against dissent and individualism, against the 
individual ego. We see in this a regression toward a more primitive state of mass 
participation. True, this process of ego-shrinking is the negative side of the back-to- 
mass reaction. Yet it stimulates a recognition of greater need for cooperation and 
mutual help. 


During the last war and the generally experienced emergencies many people 
became for the first time aware of the affective ties they had with their neighbours. At 
the same time, anxiety can inspire suspicion and the need for seeking scapegoats. It 
is the paradox of fear that it propagates warm feelings of immature ties and cold 
suspicion at the same time. 

Although there is throughout the world a conscious trend toward overcoming fear 
and feelings of insecurity, there is also a less conscious counter-current provoking 
new fears and anxieties and insecurities. Whether he is aware of it or not, modern 
man lives in an atmosphere of fear-fear of war, fear of the H-bomb, fear of 
totalitarianism, fear of non-conformism, fear of dissent. Fear has already begun to 
influence our behaviour by the time we are aware of it. Once fear has penetrated the 
mind and stimulated fantasy, it begins to direct our actions, whether we want it to or 
not. We cannot eliminate all the thousands of stresses and fear-provoking situations 
in the modern world, but we can learn to recognize and understand some of the most 
common forms of fear reactions. In this way we can find a partial release from the 
tensions they create and can learn how to cope with them more effectively. 


Our Fantasies About Danger 

I remember vividly one sunny afternoon during the Second World War while I was 
still in Holland. I was playing tennis with some friends. We were all enjoying the 
satisfying exertion of our sport, but our enjoyment was somewhat marred by the 
players on the next court. They spoke the language of the hated occupier, and 
although attired in the same white sports clothes as we, they were obviously Nazi 
officers who were temporarily forgetting their delusion of conquering the world and 
were trying to relax like normal human beings. Suddenly we all heard the drone of 
planes and the sound of antiaircraft off in the distance. 

Then a group of low-lying Spitfires, our friends from England, came zooming by. My 
friends and I stopped playing, waved our rackets in greeting, and watched the planes 
manoeuvring. Our neighbours reacted quite differently. They became panicky; one of 
them flung his racket from him and ran off, the others threw themselves, face down, 
into a ditch bordering the court. Objectively, we were all faced with the same danger 
of strafing from the English planes, but for the Germans these were enemy planes, 
while for us they were friends. 

I'm sure it isn't necessary for me to add that after this occurrence my fellow Dutch 
citizens were forbidden to play tennis on that court. When, a year later, I had arrived 
by good chance in London, I found that every time German planes came over during 
the night, I had that same suspicious feeling the German officers on the tennis court 
must have had. It seemed as though every bullet and every bomb was meant for me. 
So great is the role of fantasy in fear that an enemy bomb may have a different 
meaning for us than a friendly bomb. 

Fear may be defined very simply as an inner reaction to danger. This definition is 
deceptively simple, for as soon as we offer it, we are faced with a new problem: 
What shall we define as danger? Bombs, fires, earthquakes, and epidemics are 
easily recognizable as dangers. So are physical torture, direct totalitarian attack, and 
sudden economic collapse. But there are many subtle emotional dangers, too, 
arousing fearful fantasies and anticipations often combined with inner visions of 
doom and disaster. As our examples will show, these dangers are faced differently 
by different people. It is our personal attitude toward life and toward mankind that 
determines whether we consider a situation a welcome challenge or an 
unconquerable danger. 

Some people enjoy strict control and mechanical conditioning of their lives. For them, 
totalitarianism and thought control are not danger; they bring a kind of eternal day- 
sleep without responsibility. To these people, freedom is a danger, while 
dependence is a pleasurable safety. Others loathe any intrusion into their personal 
freedom and integrity and are continually on the alert to defend themselves against 
any external pressure-real or fancied. 


Paradoxical Fear 

Even when people are well prepared and trained to meet an anticipated disaster, 
such as imprisonment and brainwashing, the actual impact of the danger may 
provoke all kinds of defensive behaviour. Overtraining may even weaken the person 
because the long anticipation allows all kinds of hidden fantasies to run rampant. In a 
minority of persons this may be expressed in such pathological fear reactions as 
complete nervous breakdown or utter paralysis. 

Every person shows a different mental threshold of resistance to danger, and this 
threshold may change day by day, depending on our physical and mental fortitude. 
As a rule, inexperienced troops do not immediately show pathological fear in combat; 
such behaviour takes some time to develop. Paradoxically enough, fear reactions 
and moments of weakness often develop after the real danger has passed. When 
the tension of battle or the daily stress of life in the prison camp is over, and there is 
no longer any need to hide one's fears and to control one's behaviour, many people 
let go completely and give free vent to all their anxieties. 

In Dover, England, in 1944, the population suffered a kind of collective nervous 
breakdown when after the tension of four years of continual shelling by the Germans 
they heard only silence. The shelling suddenly stopped completely after the Allied 
troops swept victoriously across the Belgian coast. At that moment, many of the 
people of Dover broke down. It was as if the unexpected silence had brought them 
into a state of shock. 

This paradoxical fear reaction after danger has passed is important for us to 
understand. The totalitarian strategists know that during a period of temporary quiet 
and relaxation of tension, people lose their alertness and thus can be more easily 
caught in the totalitarian mental grip. In their strategy of terror they consciously make 
use of the psychological action of the breathing spell. As soon as we let go and drop 
the defences we have built up against danger, we can be brought to swallow any 
strong suggestions. The totalitarians also, in their "Document on Terror," call the 
technique of taking advantage of such relief the "strategy of fractionalized fear:" In a 
quiet period between acute tensions, they can easily condition their victims' minds. 
Hitler used the Munich period of appeasement in precisely this way. During this time, 
his propaganda barrage was doubly effective. 

Whether the reaction to fear and danger is immediate or delayed, most people show, 
under stress, behaviour that can be said to fall into one of the following patterns: 

1 . Regression-loss of learned behaviour 

2. Camouflage and disguise-the so-called "feign or faint" reactions 

3. The explosive panic-defense through "fight or flight" 

4. Our psychosomatic conditioning-the body takes over 



Although most people are more or less acquainted with the concept of regression, of 
setting the cultural clock back, they are surprised, nevertheless, to see staid men 
and women lose their acquired habits of civilization in times of catastrophe and 
panic. I once treated an engineer who had been the victim of an earthquake in a 
foreign country. After the earthquake, he behaved completely like a baby. All kinds of 
treatments were tried, but none were successful; we were never able to change his 
childish behaviour. He never found his way back to normal, adequate behaviour. 

From that fateful day, he remained barricaded in his cave of escape. It was as if with 
one blow he had forgotten everything he had ever learned. He was no longer a 
grown man, a professional scientist. He was an infant. He babbled like an infant, he 
had to be fed like an infant. Another earthquake victim of whom I know, a professor 
of mathematics, was found in his garden after the quake was over, half-naked and 
playing with his child's toys. He completely rejected any recognition of the real 
emergency situation in which he found himself and regressed to a period of infantile 
irresponsibility. Such regressive behaviour as a form of defense is encountered 
everywhere in the animal kingdom. When an organism is in danger, it drops its 
complexity and retreats to a simpler form of existence. When circumstances of living 
become too dangerous, some easily exposed multi-cellular organisms turn into well- 
protected, simple mono-cellular beings. This regressive process, called encystication 
may, for instance, take place when the organism is exposed to abnormal 
temperatures or abnormal dryness. 

Man is subject to the same biological rule of defense. When life is too complex for 
him, he often turns the clock of civilization back and becomes primitive again. A 
sudden disintegration and breakdown of functions may occur. This form of 
regressive behaviour is common in children. When they are frightened, they often 
revert to baby talk or to bed-wetting. In the bombed areas during the Second World 
War, many girls in their late teens started to play with their dolls again. Even 
seemingly mature, hyper-sophisticated men and women may display thousands of 
symptoms of this return to infantilism when fear attacks them. Their symptoms are 
not always as dramatic as the examples above; nevertheless, they are symptoms of 
fear. When grown people begin to stutter and to lose their daily decorum, when they 
take to carrying around special protective charms, when they invent stories about 
their magic invulnerability, when they boast more, eat more cake and candy, whistle 
more, talk more, cry more, and lose their formal stiff and staid behaviour, they are 
acting out of fear. 

During the Second World War, in the prison camps and the air-raid shelters, people 
really got to know each other, as do children in the playpen who have the simple 
intuitive gift of knowing whom they can trust. In our age of anxiety, we feel 
possessed by the same frightening shadows that once haunted the Stone-Age man, 
and we may react to them by acting more like our simpler ancestors. 


Camouflage and Disguise 

A different pattern is that of camouflage and disguise playing hide-and-seek with 
fate. This useful protective trickery is often seen in lower animals who temporarily 
acquire the form or color of their environment. It is just like military camouflage. 
Everybody is acquainted with the color changes of the chameleon, and there are 
many other animals which are able to change their skin or body form in times of 
danger. Yet many people are not aware that human skin, too, shows rudimentary 
attempts at camouflage. The phenomenon of goose flesh resembles the reaction of 
a frightened, bristling cat; sudden greying of the hair or discoloration of the skin, 
which is known technically as fear melanosis, changes our outer color. 

During the Second World War, I went with a first-aid team to Rotterdam after the city 
had been heavily bombed. As we looked at the people, our first impression was that 
they were all wearing masks. Their skin was wrinkled and showed a typical 
camouflage reaction. They were all still badly frightened. It was as if they were in 
hiding from the tremendous hell of fire that had been thrown down on them. 

There is a psychological parallel to these physical reactions; it is called the "feign or 
faint" pattern. Actual psychology looks at both reactions, feigning and fainting, as a 
passive retreat from reality. This reaction is comparable to shell-shock or battle 
neurosis, the study of which is one of the most absorbing chapters of medicine. 
Soldier and civilian alike can go into a state of mental paralysis. In such a state the 
victim becomes apathetic; he is unable to talk or to move. No dangerous reality 
exists for him anymore. He looks dead; only his frightened, burning eyes seem alive. 
This death attitude or cataleptic reaction often has a completely terrifying effect on 
bystanders. There is nothing so contagious as fainting in any crowded place. 

It is of the utmost importance to realize how passive, paralyzed, indifferent, and 
submissive people can become under circumstances which should demand the 
utmost activity. The totalitarians are making use of man's passive reaction to terror 
when they put their prisoners into huge concentration camps with only a few guards; 
they are gambling that the reaction of passivity will keep the victim from rebelling or 
trying to escape. Like the bird which stands stock-still when the snake approaches, 
man may surrender passively to what he dreads and fears in order to get rid of the 
tension of anticipation. The thief who surrenders to the police because he cannot 
stand the tension and insecurity of not knowing when he will be found out is an 
obvious example. 

A psychological camouflage reaction lies behind emotional shock and silent panic- 
the mental paralysis that overcomes some people when they can no longer cope 
with the circumstances in which they find themselves. Passive surrender to what he 
fears is one of man's most common reactions to sudden danger; it is not limited to 
pathological personalities. It occurs much more frequently than wild and overt panic, 
and displays itself in numerous subtle behaviour mechanisms. People may escape 
into complaints about physical disease. 


They may take refuge in "very important" pseudo-tasks and hobbies. They may deny 
real danger in a seemingly self-securing complacency. They become obstinate and 
disobedient; nothing can activate them. They are not interested in politics, they say. 
Some will try to sell to themselves and others the paralyzing theory of hopelessness 
and the inevitability of doom. But don't talk about the nuclear bomb! Others will throw 
themselves into the oblivion of excessive drinking or hide themselves in long, 
pointless conferences. Every man has his own psychological Maginot line-a mental 
fortress that he believes inviolable. We used to call this the ostrich policy-and the 
ostrich policy is one of the most dangerous strategies in the world. Beware the 
totalitarian who preaches peace; his intention may be to push the world into passive 
surrender to that which it fears. 

The cult of passivity and so-called relaxation is one of the most dangerous 
developments of our times. Essentially, it too may represent a camouflage pattern, 
the double wish not to see the dangers and challenges of life and not to be seen. We 
cannot escape all the tensions that surround us; they are part of life, and we have to 
learn to cope with them adequately and to use our leisure time for more creative and 
gratifying activities. Silent, lonely relaxation with alcohol, sweets, the television 
screen, or a murder mystery may soothe the mind into a passivity that may gradually 
make it vulnerable to the seductive ideology of some feared enemy. Denying the 
danger of totalitarianism through passivity, may gradually surrender to its 
blandishments those who were initially afraid of it. 


Explosive Panics 

Most people are far more familiar with the explosive motor reactions we call panic 
and stampede than they are with the other fear reactions. This is what we call mass 
hysteria, the chaconne pour soi reaction. The baby has its temper tantrums, and 
older people have their uncontrolled fury and "fight or flight" reactions. Although we 
usually think of the word "panic" as describing such phenomena as the hysterical 
stampede out of a burning theatre or the flight of whole populations in terror, there 
are many subtle steps that lead from the first symptoms of unrest we all feel when 
something is threatening, to the great outbursts of crying and running and fighting we 
see in severe panics. 

Man shows many forms of panicky, frenzied behaviour-epileptic fits (as in trench or 
war epilepsy), fury, rage, self-destruction, criminal aggression, running amok, 
deserting from the army, rioting, uncontrolled impulsiveness, breakneck speed in 
driving. A soldier in a state of panic may behave like an angry child. He may attack 
his friends or shoot at the members of his own troop. In panic, civilians may begin to 
cry, shout, walk aimlessly about wringing their hands. Or they may shout and scold 
or cry for help. The panicky person spreads panic; every time he shouts, he incites 
others to run. Panic is never a question of crude strength or failing energy, but rather 
of lack of inner structure, of a failing capacity to organize. The panicky leader 
hesitates to use the powers entrusted to him. 

The child with temper tantrums lies deep within all of us. The more mysterious and 
unaccountable the danger, the more primitive our reactions may be. 

Riots, furious mass movement, and outbreaks of criminality serve to increase fear 
and panic, and thus can be used to deepen man's sense of insecurity and further his 
passive surrender to the totalitarian environment. Any terroristic regime compels its 
victims to repress their reactions of rebellion and anger. The more these reactions 
are repressed, the more the victims develop tremendous inner rage, which must bide 
its time and wait until it is permitted some socially sanctioned form of explosion. War 
is often such a universal panic, a mass discharge of accumulated internal rage. 
Here, too, the inner fears of mankind are discharged in mass destruction. 


The Body Takes Over 

The great group of psychosomatic reactions, although they are no mystery, are more 
difficult to explain. Let us look at an example which may make this phenomenon 
more clear. In my home town in Holland, after a few bombardments during the 
Second World War, an epidemic of bladder disease broke out-at least that was the 
first explanation. People suffered from the need to urinate so often that their sleep 
was disturbed; almost no one had a full night's rest. For a short time, there was a 
boom in the practice of urologists. Then psychiatrists were able to explain that this 
urge to urinate was one of the first reactions to fear. 

The victims had only to think back to their childhood and to recall their bodily 
reactions before taking examinations at school to see what was happening. 
Increased urination may be described as one of the tension-reducing devices of the 
body. The body may react to danger and panic with a variety of physical symptoms. 
Perspiration, frequent urination, heart palpitations, diarrhoea, high blood pressure 
are only a few. We know that many of these reactions are related to the body's 
mobilization of specific defences against threatening dangers. The specific ways in 
which bodily diseases related to fear and anxiety develop are conditioned largely by 
the individual's personal life history, especially his development during childhood. 
The infant whose early tensions and yearnings were drowned in milk and pabulum 
will grow up into an adult who tries to fill his mouth again as soon as something 
threatening occurs. Overeating has become for him a fear-allaying device. In the 
process of rearing the child, the parent unwittingly train certain of the child's organs 
to react to the tensions of life. 

Because man has many bodily organs, he can show a tremendous variety in his 
physical and emotional responses to threats, both from without and within. 
Psychosomatic medicine distinguishes between different character types in terms of 
the different organs which respond to outside stress or danger. There is the ulcer 
type, the asthma type, the colitis type, the heart failure type. Each of these types 
shows a different reaction to the same battle-the battle against fear. Feelings of 
social tension may be expressed in various organic diseases. In acute fright, 
however, certain organs of the body more commonly react than others. As we saw in 
our earlier example, the need for frequent urination is a nearly universal reaction to 
fright. The "upset stomach" is another almost universal fear reaction. 

During the Second World War, a medical team looked in vain for the bug causing an 
unknown intestinal disease among American soldiers who were preparing to land on 
one of the enemy islands in the Pacific. The doctors and biologists searched and 
searched; they found nothing. The mysterious disease vanished, as suddenly as it 
had appeared, after the invasion began and the soldiers were able to discharge in 
action the tension of waiting f or the invasion. These men were not strange or 
abnormal in any way. Even when one consciously accepts the challenge of danger 
and is prepared to face it, counter-forces in the body may defeat the mental effort. 
The mind wants to be brave, but the body escapes into disease. Consistency of 
child-rearing, emotional security at home, and lifelong conditioning to acceptance of 
the various challenges of life-all these are the factors that determine how we will 
react when we are put to the test. 


In their treatment of panicky soldiers during the last war, psychiatrists gave some of 
their time to an explanation of these various danger reactions. As the victims began 
to understand their reactions and saw how common they were, they took the first 
and most important step toward cure. No longer were they so afraid of their fears; no 
longer were they in such dread of cowardice. It was important for them to know that 
what had reduced them to the level of helpless childhood was part of a universal 
pattern of defensive behaviour. As they understood this, they became less afraid and 
ashamed of their own private fears. They knew that their bodies were reacting like 
many others, and they became able once more to accept their duties quietly and with 
better control. Stamina and resourcefulness depend as much on self-knowledge as 
they do on the help and support we get from others. 

In times of stress and calamity, people begin to probe for the vulnerable spots and 
weaknesses in both their friends and their enemies. This testing goes on constantly 
during a hot war, but it happens during a cold war as well. The cold war exerts a 
continual pressure on human imagination and mental fortitude and is the cause of 
many peculiar escape reactions or bodily reactions. 

Whenever fear and danger confront him, man has to make a choice: Shall he indulge 
in unchecked fury? Shall he concentrate upon self-protection? Or shall he accept his 
responsibilities? The fear reactions we have described show how the primordial 
impulse to self-protection (misguided though it may be) can break through all our 
civilized defences. Only training and conscious preparation for danger, both inner 
and outer, can give a man strength to hold these reactions in check. This training 
starts within the nucleus of the family and is supported by the example of a peaceful, 
free community. These are the first teachers in the constant battle between inner 
fear and outer danger. 

Those who are in danger of being brainwashed can be helped simply by making 
them familiar with the facts. Foreknowledge has a partial protective function, and this 
belongs to the best security we can give to them. It takes away the weakening 
influence of anxious and mysterious anticipation. With this aid, their mental 
vulnerability is then furthered by innate inner strength, by the example of good 
rearing, and by the challenge and opportunity their society gives to them. 





The time has come to ask ourselves if it is possible that there is something in our 
own growth and development that may make us more vulnerable to mental intrusion 
and ultimate brainwashing. Are there, for instance, special coercive needs in us? 
What is communicated and taught to the child that may keep him a spiritual prisoner 
of his environment? 

These are important questions and would require a thorough philosophic and 
pedagogic investigation. Nevertheless, for practical purposes, we may limit our 
attention to two different spheres of development: the influence of parents and the 
influence of certain social habits. The latter has already been investigated in the 
second part of this book. Indeed, I must repeat that in my experience all those who 
are educated under rules of too strict obedience and conformity break down more 
easily under pressure. During World War II when the so-called tough S.S. officers 
were interrogated after they had become prisoners, they readily surrendered their 
military secrets. Having lived for years under totalitarian command, they were just as 
obedient to the new commanding voices. Sometimes we only had to imitate the 
shouting voices of their masters and they would exchange their former boss for the 
new one. For them every command had become the automatic trigger for new 
conforming obedience. 

In dealing with members of the Communist Party in this country, we had a 
comparable experience: the members were politically submissive and changed their 
obstructive party-strategy to an opposite set of tactics the moment Moscow ordered 
them to do so. 


How Some Totalitarians May Develop 

Increasing attention has been given to the various psychological motivations leading 
to political extremism and a totalitarian mentality in men and women who have been 
brought up in a democratic atmosphere, but who have voluntarily chosen to 
associate themselves with some totalitarian ideology. Psychologists who have come 
into contact with the totalitarian attitude and have studied those who are easily 
influenced by it agree, by and large, that in the free, democratic countries the option 
for totalitarianism is nearly always determined by an inner personality factor- 
frustration, if you will. It is usually neither poverty nor social idealism that makes a 
man a totalitarian, but mostly internal factors such as extreme submissiveness and 
masochism on the one hand or a lust for power on the other. Unsolved sibling rivalry 
plays a role too; I have treated several Nazi collaborators whose political behaviour 
was motivated to some extent by the fact that they were older sons and could not 
stand the competition with their younger brothers. All these factors help to explain 
why the totalitarians everywhere can use their propaganda of violence to exploit 
resentment, hatred, racialism, and political fury. They know that they have only to 
play on these immature feelings of deprivation and dissatisfaction to bring people 
under a spell. 

In my own experience, I have been amazed to see how unrealistic are the bases for 
political option in general. Only rarely have I found a person who has chosen any 
particular political party democratic or totalitarian-through study and comparison of 
principles. Too often man's choice of his political affiliations is determined by apathy, 
by family tradition, by hope for financial gain, or by other irrelevant factors. It is this 
lack of rational motivation that can make men more susceptible to totalitarian 
blandishments, even in a democratic community. I remember very clearly, for 
example, a Dutch physician with whom I went to medical school. He fell in love with 
the daughter of a Communist and eventually married her. At first he was disturbed by 
the conflict between his principles and his adoration, but gradually his principles 
gave in and he started to justify the party line. 

Later on I met him from time to time. He was an excellent doctor and a jovial fellow, 
and he took our half-serious quips about his politics in good part. But the moment we 
began a really serious discussion, he crouched in his official defensive corner and 
became a different man-sour, mechanical, handing out ready-made arguments. 
During the war I met him frequently in the course of our common underground work. 
He had been completely dazed by Stalin's pact with the Nazis, but the moment 
Russia was invaded and became an ally, he started his aggressive robotism again. 
Not only was he a staunch fighter against the Nazis, but he insisted that his was the 
only way to fight. He lost his life on a dangerous mission for the underground, and I 
always had the feeling that it was in a way welcome to his latent suicidal feelings. 

In other Nazis and Communists, both, I have seen dramatic examples of how 
personal resentments, outside the suffering of real injustice, can lead a man to the 
side of the rebels. 


Some of these people were the type who simply submitted passively to a movement 
stronger than themselves-men and women whose ideology was a reflection of 
whichever side had caught them first; others were motivated by the need to vent 
their own personal anger and resentment in some direction and used political action 
to satisfy this need. But if we are to come to any real understanding of the internal 
factors that lead a man to adopt a totalitarian ideology, we must dig a little deeper 
than this and must give our attention to some basic roots of this problem. 


The Moulding Nursery 

One of the important things we have learned from modern psychology is that the 
roots of many of our adult attitudes and problems lie far back in the seeming quiet of 
the nursery and childhood years. The infant's life may appear to be placid and 
uneventful, but from the moment he is born he hears thousands of rumblings both 
from inside his own mind and from the world outside. In his mother's womb he knew 
neither warmth nor cold, now his skin transmits these sensations to him. As he lay 
protected in his mother's body, he did not have to breathe, eat, or excrete; now he 
must do all these things himself. He needs help in doing them, he needs protection, 
and for this protection and help he must rely on those grown-up giants, Mother and 

He is utterly and completely dependent, unable by himself to find adequate 
responses to his needs. There he is, with his pitifully limited means of adaptation, 
with his minimum of innate patterns of action. Warmth, food, and love, things which 
he needs to sustain his life, come to him when he does the "right" thing-and the right 
thing is the learned, civilized thing, not the instinctual, primitive thing. The giants, his 
parents, make demands on him-they begin to mould him according to their own 
habits, and the infant must submit to all these external demands in order to get what 
he wants and needs. 

He must follow the hundreds of subtle, incomprehensible educational rules in order 
to be paid back with the affection and protection on which he is so dependent. All of 
this transforms him into a more or less conforming being. His parents' morality is, as 
it were, sucked in and becomes an ever-present force inside him. He is imprinted 
with all kinds of habits which serve to condition him into the particular form of 
adaptation his parents and his society think good for him. The forms his adult 
behaviour will take are foreshadowed by the forms his parents' behaviour take. The 
patient mother imprints patience on her child; the anxious, compulsive mother 
imprints tensions on hers. 

The child who is brought up in a loving environment will develop inner pictures of 
love and affection and will be better able to accept all the restrictions his parents 
impose on his freedom, all the rules they lay down. He will accept timetables, toilet 
training, parental confusion, without too much inner protest even when his needs run 
contrary to these social demands. He may want to be fed at a time when, according 
to his schedule, he should not be hungry. He may want to sleep when his parents 
want him to be awake. Society demands of him that he learn to postpone his own 
gratifications, and he will react to this demand in a manner contingent on his own 
sense of security in his parents' affection. Having to wait for food, not being allowed 
to suck any more, having to control his need to excrete-all of these require the child 
to make new and difficult adaptations. His urge for immediate and unconditional 
satisfaction of his needs has to be transformed into something much more 
complicated-a whole pattern of learned responses. 


It is not important for us to describe here the different ways in which these early 
cultural obligations are met by the child. But it is important to understand that the 
cradle and the nursery change and recondition the innate natural responses of the 
unsocial, primitive child to mould him into an adult, who may be left from his 
childhood a legacy of frustrations stemming from this moulding process. Individual 
problems are caused by individual patterns of child-rearing; these very patterns are 
themselves to some degree the product of the cultural traditions in which they are 
rooted and the mores of the community into which the child is born. 1'o the degree 
that our society imposes on children frustrations and restrictions for which they are 
neither biologically nor emotionally ready, to that degree our culture paves the way 
for adult behaviour problems and for neurotic attitudes of submission or aggression, 
which may find expression in allegiance to some totalitarian group. 

Conditioning a child into a servile and submissive attitude, for example, may start 
when parents rigidly imprint automatic rules of conduct on the infant. They may make 
a time maniac out of him or a cleaning automaton. They may compel him to speak 
too early or to be silent when his voice itches to burst out of his throat or to sleep 
when his body is throbbing with the energy of wakefulness. Such parents impose on 
their child a constant feeling of guilt-he feels disturbed and unhappy every time he 
does not comply with their demands. And at the same time they force him to love 
them even when they are disagreeable. They may compel him to apologize for 
behaviour which seems to him to be perfectly acceptable; they may demand that he 
confess to crimes which do not exist as crimes for him at his age. Some techniques 
of brainwashing can be seen at the cradle; the parents may cross-examine him, tie 
him to their apron strings, or keep him constantly under their eyes. With their 
solicitous attention they never leave him alone to enjoy feeling of being secure with 
himself. The helpless child in such an environment becomes emotionally insecure; in 
exchange for more borrowed security, he becomes more conforming and 
submissive, although this conforming behaviour covers up tremendous inner protest 
and hostility. 

When parents do not permit a child to express his instinctual needs openly and 
directly, they force him to look for other ways to express them. If during his early 
training-which may start on the day of his birth-the infant encounters endless 
restrictions to the direct expression of his needs, he will try to communicate these 
needs in indirect ways-through tension, restlessness, and crying. Instead of being 
able to use natural outlets for his instinctual drives, the child is permitted and 
conditioned to act only through suppression and control of the drive. In his struggle 
to bring the drive under control in order to please his parents, the child's natural 
means of expression may become inverted. Instead of expression, he acquires 
repression. This is where the roots of such adult behaviour as abject submissiveness 
and the urge for conformity lie. The groundwork for this masochistic pattern of giving 
in is formed in infancy. Submission and confession are the only strategies possible 
for the child in a world that is too overpowering for him to handle. Inner rebellion, 
hostility, and hatred must be expressed in a paradoxical way. The child's rigid silence 
is proof that he wants to cry and yell. He may reproach and attack the hostile world 
indirectly, through magic gestures, clownish behaviour, or even epileptic fits. 


Compelled to suppress his instinctual needs and his means of achieving their 
gratification, he may conceal their existence even from himself. Surface conformity 
becomes his only means of communication, and when this happens words and 
gestures acquire a concealing function. He never says what he means, and 
gradually he doesn't even know what he means. 

The carry-overs into adult life of this kind of child-rearing are obvious. Trained into 
conformity, the child may well grow up into an adult who welcomes with relief the 
authoritarian demands of a totalitarian leader. It is the welcome repetition of an old 
pattern that can be followed without investment of new emotional energy. Trained 
previously to divert his aggression to scapegoats, he may now displace his hidden 
resentments against his parents' rules and regulations toward society as a whole. Or 
he may find release for them in the wild explosion of pent-up aggression which is 
exemplified by the lynch mob or by Hitler's storm troopers. 

Other forms of parental behaviour also have their effect on the child. If the child is 
trained precociously in habits that would otherwise develop spontaneously at a later 
age, he may show all kinds of distortions in his natural behaviour. The example of 
the effect of precocious toilet training is common, but there are many other parental 
commands that can have the same effect on the child. The way the child is clothed 
or the parents' constant demand that he always be quiet, asleep, and motionless are 
equally valid examples. When any command is too strictly applied before the child is 
able to cope with it, it exerts an enormous frustrating influence. 

What was enforced on the child by some outside power becomes an inner, 
automatic rule, a compulsion. Let us return to the toilet training example for a 
moment, though it is only one single part of the whole pattern of training. The child 
who is trained to control his need to excrete at too early an age learns to keep 
himself clean and constipated under all circumstances. His body learns how to 
control itself automatically, but somewhere inside him the child feels contempt for 
those who have forced him into this behaviour. He may grow up to be a chronically 
hostile adult, ripe for the appeal of some hostile ideology. In less severe cases, the 
conflict between outside prohibitions and the inner need to let go may create a 
continuing pattern of inner insecurity. Or it may lead to constant querulous 
resentment, which can be easily utilized by any would-be dictator. 

What we have to emphasize is this: the earliest web of communication between 
parents and child takes place on what psychology calls a pre-verbal and 
unconscious level. There is contact without words. The mother transfers her moods 
directly to the child; he senses and catches her feelings. The child also transfers his 
moods to her; she feels his pains and joys almost as soon as he does. This 
sensitivity of the infant makes him react with great intensity-he is profoundly aware of 
his parents' feelings. Such negative parental factors as anxiety, insecurity, 
infantilism, mutual disharmony, neurotic love, poverty, the struggle for existence, and 
compulsive tyranny have an enormous effect on the child. Not long ago I treated an 
infant who refused any offer of handling or feeding by its mother. The infant "knew" 
that the mother had a deep-seated hostility against it; it felt her aversion and 


But the infant accepted food and affection from everyone else. The interplay 
between parental attitudes and child development starts at birth. 

Perhaps one of the clearest examples of a distorted growing-up may be seen in one 
case I treated during the Second World War when I was asked to do a psychological 
study of an alleged collaborator with the Nazis. This man, who was in England when 
I saw him, said that he had left Holland, which was then occupied, because he no 
longer agreed with the German conquerors. When he arrived in England he was, as 
a matter of careful routine, put in a home for people under investigation as suspected 
spies. From here, he was very soon taken to a mental institution because of his 
strange behaviour. He was not actually psychotic, but he did have great difficulty in 
relating to other people. 

When I went to interview him, it became apparent to me that he was completely 
confused. He babbled so much that it was almost impossible to understand him. I 
asked him about his childhood. It was not easy for him to speak about it, but he 
finally told me something of his background. He was an only child. His mother had 
been the dominant member of the family, actively working in scientific research. His 
father, a weak, nebulous figure, had seldom been at home; in his job as the manager 
of a large firm, he had travelled a great deal. On the rare occasions when the father 
was at home, the patient remembered long silences between his parents, his father 
only occasionally protesting against his mother's constant stream of directives. 
Sometimes the boy joined with his mother in criticizing his father's detachment and 
lack of interest, sometimes he turned to his father for love and help against his 
mother's smothering behaviour. But he was mostly lost and alone at home. In his late 
teens, the boy developed some homosexual attachments, in which he played the 
passive, submissive role. But he only came alive mentally after one of his friends 
made him attend a fascist rally. The show of strength and aggression excited the boy 
enormously and even aroused sexual sensations in him. He joined the fascist group, 
to the great dismay of his parents, but he was never very active in party work 
because the party did not provide him with the guidance and love for which he 

After the Nazi invasion and occupation, the party demanded that he be more active 
as a collaborator with the Germans. Now his conscience bothered him, and he 
became ill and developed all kinds of stomach ailments which were, to a psychiatrist, 
obviously emotional in origin. He was not, however, strong enough to withdraw from 
the party completely. He felt caught between two opposing dangers-the party and 
treason. The childhood struggle began all over again; he felt himself unsafe with 
either father or mother. So he decided to flee the country because he had a vague 
feeling that this would help him get away from his conflicts. 

Once in England, in the asylum, he felt completely contented. He simply did not 
understand the serious nature of the accusations that had been made against him. 
When I spoke to him about world affairs and his political activity, he fell into silence. 
He did not remember any of the details of his political behaviour. It was as if he had 
lived in a dream since the moment he ran away from Holland. It is entirely possible 
that the enemy had used him as a tool, but at the time I saw him he was only a near- 
psychotic, fear-ridden young man. He remained in the institution for the duration of 
the war. 


One thing stands out clearly in this case (aside from its complexity as a pathological 
phenomenon) and that is the young man's continual search for male authority. This 
search for spiritual backbone is very common among people who develop totalitarian 


The Father Cuts the Cord 

Psychological studies have shown us over and over again that the child's attitude 
toward the parental authority, with all its subtle internal complications, plays a 
primary role in determining how he will handle his hostilities-whether he will learn to 
cope with them or whether he will direct them toward destructive aims. As we said 
earlier, parents and family form almost the whole environment of the child during the 
first years of its life. 

They condition the foundations of his future character. And in the family it is the 
influence of the father that determines whether the child will stick to its strong natural 
ties with its mother, to its dependency needs and its needs for protection, or will step 
out of this maternal realm and will form new ties with new people. The father is the 
first one who cuts into the essentially biological relation between mother and child. 
He is what the psychoanalyst calls the first transference figure, the first new 
prototype to whom the child can transfer its expectations of gratification, its feelings 
of relatedness, of satisfaction, of fear. This first new trial relationship with the father 
giant may become the conditioning prototype for every subsequent social 

The child's initial relationship with its mother is purely biological and symbiotic. The 
womb is replaced by the crib. The mother is the know-all and do-all. Psychoanalysis 
describes the child's relationship with its mother as one of oral dependency because 
the helpless infant is completely dependent on the food, care, and warmth the 
mother provides. The little human being's dependency need lasts longer than that of 
the other animals. It is this fact that makes man gregarious, dependent on 
cooperation with others. 

The father brings a third person, who has no part in this relationship of biological 
dependency, into the life of the child. When he cuts into the child's relationship with 
its mother, he is cutting the psychological umbilical cord just as the doctor cuts the 
physical one when the infant is delivered. First, he gives the child the opportunity to 
transfer feelings and expectations to him; later, he brings the child more actively 
outside the maternal realm and teaches him more and more about social 
relationships. The specific role of the father as a transference prototype is not so 
simple as it seems to many fathers. Father is not merely a toy with whom the child 
can occasionally play. 

The child needs to identify with this giant who lives with him and with Mother; he 
wants to become familiar with the giant, he wants the giant to become part of his 
world. The child wants more than this-he wants to be gratified by Father so that he 
can love Father as much as he does Mother. But the child will transfer some of its 
love and emotional investment to Father only if it sees something of Mother in him. 
Father can do the same things Mother does-he can feed the child, can solace him, 
can take care of him-and thus the child can maintain a feeling of gratitude and 
affection toward this third person. This transference of feelings can only take place, 
however, when the relationship between the parents themselves is tranquil. How can 
the child identify with and love his parents when they are in constant conflict with 
each other? 


This picture is, of course, something of an oversimplification. There are mothers who 
behave like cold, distant fathers, and fathers who behave like warm, cuddling 
mothers. There are grandparents or adoptive parents who can take over. There are 
many mother or father substitutes. But this is not my point. My point is that in every 
situation there must be some individual who can become the conditioning prototype 
for the child's relationships with new beings. 

This first person is most likely to be the father, and it is he who changes the child's 
biological dependency into a psychological relationship. When there is no father 
figure, or if the father is too weak or too busy or is denying and tyrannical toward the 
child, the result is that the child's relationship with and dependence on the mother 
remains strong and lasts too long. Consequently, the child's need for social 
participation and for gregarious ties with others may become to him a consuming 
need. As an adult he may be willing to join with any social group which promises him 
support and reassurance. Or his unconscious resentment against the father who did 
not help him to grow up and become independent may be diverted into a resentment 
against other symbols of authority, such as society itself. Either way the child may be 
headed for maladjustment and for difficulties. Either way the child may grow up into 
an immature adult. 

In a study on living by proxy, I described the arrested emotional development that 
results when the father does not play his proper role or is not present. A child 
brought up in such an emotionally defective atmosphere searches continually for 
strong figures who may serve as a proxy for the normal relationships the child would 
otherwise have had in life. I have treated several cases of homosexuality and other 
forms of arrested development, both in men and women, which were almost directly 
attributable to the too strongly tied, symbiotic life with the mother which results from 
such an environment. 

In the building up of man's awareness of an independent self and the establishment 
of his ability to have easy, relaxed relationships with his fellow men, the father, as 
the natural chief and protector of the family, plays an important role. He cuts the 
cord. He may condition the later pattern of dependence and independence. His 
potential psychological dominance can become a blessing or a curse, for the child's 
emotional attitude toward its father becomes the prototype for its attitudes toward 
future leaders and toward society itself. 

We saw this clearly in the case of our "spy" who had never had a strong male guide 
in his life. Many of the people I investigated, who had chosen to identify themselves 
with aggressive totalitarian groups, had this problem. For such people, the 
totalitarian party became both the good father who accepted them and the proxy 
which gave expression to all their hidden and frustrated hate. The party solves, as it 
were, their inner problems. Parental conflict in early childhood, inconsistency, and a 
threatening, unloving attitude toward the child pave the way for rebellion and 
submission, and a repetition of this pattern later in life. The wish to break away from 
the family pattern may lead to rebellion, but the particular form the rebellion takes 
depends on what political movements can modify and channelize the person's 


This does not mean, of course, that there is not a hard core of totalitarian-minded 
people, nourished in the cradle by the dogmas of their totalitarian parents, who give 
themselves to their party tasks because they have never known a different world. 
According to Almond, these types are found particularly in our Western world among 
high-echelon extremists. They take in the totalitarian form of socialism with their 
mother's milk; they are members of an increasing group of hereditary totalitarian 
conformists. Here, no father rebellion is needed to become an extreme revolutionary. 
But the bulk of the totalitarian-minded in the democratic societies are men and 
women who are attracted to this destructive way of life for inner emotional reasons 
unknown to themselves. 

My own experiences with both Communists and Nazis during the Second World War 
has shown me this truth over and over again. In Holland, as in the other Nazi- 
occupied countries, the Communists and their sympathizers fought bravely with us in 
the underground as our temporary companions. Even during that time of national 
crisis and terror, they were never free from bitter reproach and resentment toward 
us. They insisted that their ideology was the only correct one and showed, 
sometimes openly, sometimes covertly, that when the Nazis were defeated, they 
would renew their struggle against the social order. Let me give just one example to 
illustrate this point. One of the Communists was a very brave physician (not the 
same man about whom I spoke earlier). He had killed a Nazi leader, and later he 
himself died a horrible death. 

Here was a grown man who had never been able to overcome a certain adolescent 
self-righteousness and aggressiveness. On the very night when, in deadly peril, he 
sought refuge in my home, he felt compelled to engage me in a long theoretical 
political discussion with him, full of bitterness. He disdainfully reproached the other 
resistance groups because they did not share his political views. His views and 
ideals, I must say in all justice to him, seemed sincere to me, but he was filled with 
so much unresolved hostility toward the government of his fatherland that he was 
ready at all times to overthrow it. 

The core of his fallacious reasoning I found was the confusion about ends and 
means in the struggle for social justice. For him, tactics and strategy had become 
more important than the final aim of peaceful coexistence between men on earth. His 
violent death-after murdering an S.S. officer-was partly the result of the fact that he 
pursued tactics beyond the strategic needs of the moment. True, in the end he gave 
his life for his ideals and for his native land, but up to the end he carried a bitter 
grudge against all those who were not in complete agreement with everything he 
thought and felt. It was that personal grudge and hostility which led him to bad 
planning and his ultimate fate. Most of us are not clearly and completely aware that 
alongside our wish to be good, adjusted citizens, we also have hidden wishes to 
violate our allegiances to the social formation of which we are members. 

These wishes are not based on reason and intelligence; they are purely emotional. 
They are founded by the ways we have been brought up, by our relationships with 
our parents, by our educational system, by our attitudes toward ourselves and 
toward authority. 


But all men who adhere rigidly to any set of political convictions, and especially those 
who have embraced some totalitarian ideology, believe that their attitudes emerge 
from rational conviction and are the result of normal intellectual development. They 
insist that those who do not agree with them are committed to a stuffy, outmoded 
way of thinking. They cannot see their own vengeful and disloyal attitudes as 
something asocial and abnormal. 

To the psychologist, it is eminently clear that these attitudes have their roots not in 
intellectual conviction but in some deep-seated emotional need. I have often seen 
cases where this blind, rigid allegiance to a totalitarian ideology was actually a 
defiant rebellion against a compelling inner need to grow and to change and to 
become mature. In these people, the selection of a special political party was only a 
substitute for their need for dependency. Ideological stubbornness is often tragic 
because it may cover up basic neurotic reactions that may lead to self-destruction. 

One of my patients was a young woman whose ultra-left beliefs were a defense 
against her hidden incestuous feelings toward a reactionary father. It took protracted 
therapy to bring her to an understanding of the real nature of her difficulty and to get 
her to see that there was nothing shameful or disgusting about the infantile love and 
resentment she was trying to conceal through her political behaviour. The need for 
authority, when it is not understood, and the confused resistance to authority are the 
roots from which the totalitarian attitude may grow. Whenever the father-leader fails, 
he sets up a pattern of future trouble with authority. Instead of a mature relationship 
with his fellow men, the child becomes an adult who is forced to choose the 
tyrannical totalitarian tie to keep his inner tensions in check. 

Whenever there is parental conflict, the child grows into an adult burdened with 
conflicts who may be eager to accept the simple solutions totalitarianism offers. 
Whenever there is parental compulsion, which gives the child no chance to develop 
its own attitudes and evaluations, the child grows up into a conforming adult, whose 
entire life may be spent in a search for outside authority, for someone to tell him 
what to do. 



During disturbed times such as these, the thoughts of everyone follow the diplomatic 
play going on at the various political conferences. It would be worth while to 
investigate whether it is possible for leaders of nations to arrive at a common 
understanding as a result of mutual exchange of words, ideas, and the negotiating of 
treaties. Yet, the various cultures in the world and the different ideologies not only 
speak different languages, but even their ways of thinking are different. 
Unobtrusively, our personal past and our cultural environment creep into our thinking 
habits. Our feelings and thoughts are conditioned and coerced by various social 

It is already possible to bring to the surface some of the illusions and prejudices 
people have about one another. We may say that the special environments in which 
people develop and the habits they build up foster subtle illusions and delusions in 
persons, of which they are, for the most part, unaware. Through research in the field, 
anthropology and psychology have been able to compare different ideologies in 
people by observing the growth of the wholesome and the unwholesome-in the child, 
in groups, in tribes, and, lastly, in nations. The findings call to our attention the 
difficult art of argument in situations where there is scarcely any common ground of 
communication and understanding. 

In a study on mental coercion we have to trace some of these mass psychological 
influences which condition our attitude in life. 

The Affirmation of My Own Errors 

The lie I tell ten times gradually becomes a half truth to me, And as I continue to tell 
my half-truth to others, it becomes my cherished delusion. 

We rediscover this phenomenon every day in that huge laboratory of human 
relations we call psychological counselling and psychotherapy. Let us look at just 
one simple example, the case of a perfectly healthy child who decides one day that 
she doesn't want to go to school because schoolwork seems so very difficult. So she 
tells her mother that she has a headache, and mother agrees to let her stay at home. 
Thus the girl avoids the schoolwork she dreads and gets the additional gratification 
of her mother's solicitous and tender nursing. 

The next time our little girl wants to stay home it is easier to pretend she has a 
headache-and the third time it is easier still. Gradually the girl herself begins to 
believe in her recurrent illness. Her conscience bothered her the first time she lied, 
but by now her initial lie has become an ingenuous truth to her. 


By the time our heroine becomes a grown woman she will have to consult with a 
doctor about her constantly recurring headaches. Doctor and patient will have to 
spend many hours untangling the web of half-lies, innuendos, and self-pitying 
complaints until the patient rediscovers that her headaches all began on that one day 
she didn't want to go to school. 

Delusional headaches afflict the world itself. Political demagoguery is, to some 
extent, a problem in our country. The particular form this demagoguery takes is only 
a passing phase, and when our current dragons and inner phantoms have been laid 
to rest, the eternal demagogue may arise anew. He will accuse others of conspiracy 
in order to prove his own importance. He will try to intimidate those who are neither 
so iron-fisted nor so hot-headed as he, and temporarily he will drag some people into 
the web of his delusions. Perhaps he will wear a mantle of martyrdom to arouse the 
tears of the weak-hearted. With his emotionalism and suspicion, he will shatter the 
trust of citizens in one another. His delusions of grandeur will infect those insecure 
souls who hope that some of his dictatorial glamour will rub off on them. 

Unfortunately the problem of delusion has been studied almost exclusively in terms 
of its pathological manifestations. The psychiatrist who has encountered delusions of 
grandeur in his patients has in the past lacked the philosophical and sociological 
background necessary to enable him to form comparisons between his patients' 
delusional systems and mass delusion in the world. In dealing with patients suffering 
from megalomania or persecution mania, he has tended to rely too much on 
hypotheses which explain pathological delusions as the product of anatomical 
changes in the individual brain; he has not given enough attention to the question of 
whether or not these phenomena are in any way related to an abnormal way of 
thinking in a physically normal person. 

Since the growth of anthropology and the social sciences in the last decades, new 
light has been thrown on the subject of mass feelings and mass delusion. Obviously 
these are not phenomena which a pathologist can examine under a microscope. 
They demand a knowledge of history and social psychology and of all the studies 
which concern inter-human relations and man's collective thinking. 

To arrive at a clinical stage of study of this subject, it is necessary to divest oneself of 
various fixed philosophical ideas which have dominated scientific thought since 
Aristotle. There is, for example, the doctrine of the identity of all thinking processes 
and the possible universality of human understanding. This is essentially founded on 
the belief that all human beings think in the same way. But against this hypothesis is 
the observable truth that philosophers themselves have the utmost difficulty in 
reaching mutual understanding. 

This may be largely due to the fact that different men have different methods and 
standards of thinking. For centuries, science has adopted the Aristotelian dictum that 
most thought is carried on according to the established rules of logic, which apply in 
the same way as the laws of nature. It was the philosopher Francis Bacon who first 
pointed out, in his theory of idols, that although the laws of logic and clear thinking 
certainly exist, men may or may not make use of them; depending on the emotional 
circumstances, "thoughts are often the theatrical curtains to conceal personal 
passions and reactions." 


In this statement the philosopher who lived during Shakespeare's time might almost 
be attacking the seeming logic of modern demagoguery. Since the Renaissance, 
therefore, it has been acknowledged that human feelings and personal inclinations 
mould and direct thought, and this point of view rather early found its most moving 
expression in the works of Spinoza and Pascal. When we come into contact with the 
phenomena of collective passion and mass delusion, it is impossible to keep modern 
psychology out of the picture whether we look at it philosophically or politically. For, 
when examining this problem, we are immediately confronted with the question, Do 
these disquieting phenomena in group life, which lead to so much mutual 
misunderstanding, arise from the fact that the group is in a particular, immature, and 
adolescent phase of psychological and political development? 

It will be illuminating and may help us answer the question if we study briefly the 
history of the growth of consciousness and awareness in the individual mind as it 
passes through successive stages from infancy to maturity, since we can, in fact, 
find a parallel between such stages of growth in the individual and the human group. 


Stages of Thinking and Delusion 

The psyche is constantly confronted with and communicating with the outside world, 
and at every phase of an individual's development that world and its events are 
experienced differently. 

Although different scientists have drawn different conclusions about the various 
phases and their implications, the very recognition of change and growth of personal 
outlook is one of the most important scientific findings in psychology and is agreed 
on by all psychologists. Let me briefly explain here the developmental approach to 
human psychology. It is not the only one, but it will serve to illustrate the tremendous 
impact of immature and delusional thinking on our final opinions. 

Developmental psychology - as studied in children and primitives-posits at the origin 
of thinking, in both the individual and the race, a hallucinatory stage of the mind, in 
which there is no experience of difference between the inside and the outside world; 
the mental separation and distantiation between the self and the world has not yet 
taken place. The psyche is felt to be omnipotent -all that is experienced inside the 
self is attributed to the universe as well and is imagined to be part of that universe. 

According to developmental psychology, the infant experiences the world in this way, 
and in certain types of insanity the adult will revert to this hallucinatory stage. Yet, 
even mature man does not succeed completely in separating internal fantasy from 
outside reality, and often he thinks that his private and subjective moods are caused 
by some external actuality. In the next stage, that of animistic thinking, there is still a 
partial sense of oneness between the ego and the world. The individual's inner 
experience, his fears, his feelings, are projected onto seeming causative agents in 
the outside world. The outside world is a continual demonic threat to him. 

The child who bumps against the table projects onto that table a hostile living power, 
and hits back. The primitive tribesman, hunted by beasts of prey, attributes to the 
animal he feared a divine power, that of a hostile god. The entire outside world may 
in fact be peopled with the fears of men. In times of panic and fear, we all may 
populate our neighbourhood with nonexistent traitors or fifth columnists. Our 
animistic thinking is continually busy accusing others of what actually occurs inside 
our own minds. Nowadays there are no devils and ghosts in trees and in wild 
animals; they have made their homes in the various scapegoats created by dictators 
and demagogues. 

The third stage is that of magical thinking in which there is still a sense of intimate 
connection between man and his outside world. However, man places himself more 
in opposition to the world than in union with it. He wants to negotiate with the 
mysterious powers around him. Magic is in fact the simplest strategy of man. He has 
discovered that he can manipulate the world with signs and gestures or sometimes 
with real actions or changes. He erects totem poles and sacrificial blocks; he makes 
talismans and strange medicines. He uses words as powerful signs to change the 
world. He develops a ritual to satisfy his need for coming to terms with the outside 


Which of us has not felt a sudden desire to count cobblestones or is not the jealous 
possessor of an amulet or some other secret token whose power would be lost if its 
existence were known to others? 

Immature as they are, these tokens serve to build up happiness and a good life. We 
all still live in the world of magic and are caught in the delusion of happy 
manipulation of nature. The modern tribe drives around in mechanized cars and 
becomes a megalomaniac sorcerer of the wheel. Millions of victims are brought to 
the altar of the god Speed because of our hidden delusion that frenzied rapidity 
prolongs life. The engine and the gadget have replaced the more mysterious amulet 
of earlier days. Knowledge is still in the service of power instead of in the service of 

In the last phase of mental development, man makes a complete separation 
between himself and the outside world. He not only lives with things and tries to 
manipulate them, but he also lives in opposition to them. In this phase of mature 
reality confrontation, man becomes an observer of his own life. He recognizes the 
abyss of his own being. He sees his body and mind as separate from the world. With 
hands, ears, eyes, and his controlling mind, he confronts reality. He steps back from 
the world and observes it. He is, in fact, the only animal that walks erect, 
straightforwardly facing the world. He is the only animal that uses his hands and his 
senses as verifying instruments. 

Gradually his own mind-body becomes an instrument whose drives he may accept 
or reject. Only man is able to see his drives and instincts as either dangerous or 
useful. Man not only knows an externally imposed fear, but he knows an inner fear, 
fear of losing the inner controls he has acquired at so high a price. With arms and 
hands man reaches out not only toward the outside which he once hoped to conquer 
with magic gestures as a baby does, but also he knowingly reaches out toward an 
inside world. Mature man lives between an inner and an outer world. 

There is something tragic about this laborious process of becoming conscious of a 
separate inner and outer reality. In becoming mature, man awakens from a sweet 
primitive dream in which he was part of an individual whole, part of a nirvanic world 
of equanimity. The sense of lost unity with the universe lingers on, and in moments 
of mass tension, or in times of crisis, he reaches toward that ancient experience of 
impersonal, irresponsible bliss. 

Utter passivity or self-destruction, artificial ecstasy obtained by means of drugs, the 
suicidal wish for eternal sleep-all are devices by which man hopes to fulfil that 
eternal yearning. At what stage in connection with these developments of human 
experience may we speak of delusion? When the member of a primitive tribe 
placates the mysterious and hostile world by prayer to his totem animal, we do not 
call this delusion; but if a man who has attained to a more advanced stage of 
thinking relapses into such a primitive habit of thought, then it is possible to call this 
falling back (retrogression) a delusion. 


The Loss of Verifiable Reality 

Delusion we may thus tentatively define as the loss of an independent, verifiable 
reality, with a consequent relapse into a more primitive stage of awareness. Just as 
the young woman we spoke about earlier began to believe in and suffer from her 
headaches, so the man who sells his private fantasy first as a rumour and then as a 
factual truth gradually loses his awareness that his initial statements were in fact 
deceits, and his delusion becomes a kind of permanent petrification of his original 
primitive wishful thinking. 

There are several factors which promote deluded thinking. Retrogression and 
primitivization may occur as a result of physical disease, particularly diseases of the 
brain, and it is with this type of delusions that psychiatrists deal. Many brain diseases 
put out of operation the brain cortex, the organ which developed last in the 
evolutionary process and which makes us aware and controls our thinking. When 
this disturbance of function happens, genetically older types of brain functioning 
have to take over. 

Most of the causes of delusions are not purely organic, however. The same effect of 
regression may be produced by hypnosis and mass hypnosis, which, by dislocating 
the higher forms of alert consciousness, reduce the subject to the primitive stage of 
collective participation and of oneness experience. If awareness and reality 
confrontation become rigid and automatic, if man does not look for alert and 
repeated verifications of what he finds in the world, he may develop delusions-ideas 
not adapted to the reality situation. 

Apparently the human being requires constant confrontation and verification with 
various aspects of reality if he is to remain alive and alert. When experience is 
petrified into dogma, the dogma itself stands in the way of new verification and of 
new truth. The delusion of a nation that calls itself the "chosen" country makes it 
harder for that nation to collaborate with other nations. 

How deeply involved the process of thought control is with the general formation of 
ideas in our time can be shown by the following experience. After the First World 
War, I made the acquaintance of a German philosopher dedicated to the idealistic 
philosophy of his country. Germany went through a creative phase, new ideas arose 
of fraternity and world peace. Germany, the defeated country, would show its 
spiritual power. 

During our vacations we walked together through the sunny mountains of Ticino and 
devoted our philosophical conversation to the eternal yearnings of mankind for 
harmony and friendship. We became friends and wrote to each other about our 
mutual work, till the shadow of totalitarianism came over his country. At first he was 
sceptical and even critical about Nazism. Our correspondence diminished, and when 
he gradually became gleichgeschaltet and a member of the party, the final mental 
cleavage followed. I never heard about him any more. 


So many philosophers surrender their theoretical thinking under the impact of 
powerful mass emotions. The reason lies not only in anxiety and submissiveness. It 
is a much deeper emotional process. People want to speak the language of their 
country and fatherland. In order to breathe, they have to identify with the ideological 
cliches of their surroundings. Spiritually they cannot stand alone. Stefan Zweig wrote 
during the First World War that this inner process of speaking along with the 
chauvinistic voices around him was experienced by him as a deep inner conflict. "Ich 
hatte den Willen nicht mehr gerecht zu sein (I did not have the will any more to be 
just to the others)" 


Mass Delusion 

It is interesting to note that the phenomenon of institutionalized mass delusion has 
so far received little scientific treatment, although the term is bandied about wherever 
the problems of political propaganda are discussed. But science has shied away 
from scrutinizing the collective mental aberration we call mass delusion when it is 
connected with present-day affairs; it is the historical examples, such as witchcraft 
and certain forms of mass hysteria, that have been examined in great detail. 

In our era of warring ideologies, in a time of battle for man's mind, this question 
demands attention. What is mass delusion? How does it arise? What can we do to 
combat it? The fact that I have made an analogy between the totalitarian frame of 
mind and the disease of mental withdrawal known as schizophrenia indicates that I 
consider the totalitarian ideology delusional and the totalitarian frame of mind a 
pathological distortion that may occur in anyone. When we tentatively define 
delusion as the loss of an independent, verifiable reality, with a consequent relapse 
into a more primitive state of awareness, we can see how the phenomenon of 
totalitarianism itself can be considered delusional. 

For it is delusional (un-adapted to reality) to think of man as an obedient machine. It 
is delusional to deny his dynamic nature and to try to arrest all his thinking and acting 
at the infantile stage of submission to authority. It is delusional to believe that there is 
any one simple answer to the many problems with which life confronts us, and it is 
delusional to believe that man is so rigid, so unyielding in his structure that he has no 
ambivalences, no doubts, no conflicts, no warring drives within him. 

Where thinking is isolated without free exchange with other minds and can no longer 
expand, delusion may follow. Whenever ideas are compartmentalized, behind and 
between curtains, the process of continual alert confrontation of facts and reality is 
hampered. The system freezes, becomes rigid, and dies of delusion. 

Examples of this can be found in very small communities cut off from the world. On 
fishing vessels which have been at sea a long time, contagious religious mania 
coupled with ritual murder has been known to break out. In small village communities 
there are instances of collective delusion, often under the influence of one obsessed 
person. The same thing happens in the more gigantic totalitarian communities, cut 
off from contact with the rest of the world. Is this not what happened in Hitler 
Germany, where free verification and self-correction were forbidden? Indeed, we can 
show that historically this is the case with every secluded civilization. If there is not 
interchange with other people, the civilization degenerates, becomes the victim of its 
own delusions, and dies. 

We can phrase the concept of delusion in a different way. It is a more primitive, 
distorted form of thinking found in groups or individuals, looked at only from their 
limited viewpoint. Delusional thinking doesn't know the concept of delusional 
thinking. The fakir lying on his bed of nails would be called a deluded man if he 
exhibited his devotion on Fifth Avenue, but among his own people his behaviour is 
considered saintly and eminently sane. A member of a primitive tribe will not see in 
the ceremony of devil exorcism or a revival meeting an instance of mass delusion. 


But a man who has passed through this stage of mental development to a level of 
greater perspective and awareness will recognize that delusional notions lie behind 
such ceremonies. 

Whether or not we are able to detect delusion when it appears depends entirely on 
circumstances, upon the state of civilization in which we live, upon the groups and 
the social class to which we belong. For delusion and retrogression are terms which 
imply a special social and intellectual level of awareness. That is why it is so difficult 
to detect the delusions and primitive rituals in our own midst. Our present-day 
civilization is full of mass delusions, prejudices, and collective errors which can be 
recognized easily if viewed from above, but which cannot be detected if they are 
seen from within. While the delusion of witchcraft has been banished, we have never 
freed ourselves from the delusion of cultural or racial inferiority and superiority. 
Medieval mass obsessions such as tarantism and St. Vitus's dance are little known 
now among Western nations; in their place we have mass meetings with shouting 
crowds expressing in delusional ecstasy their affiliation to some political delusion. 
Instead of the dance fury, we have the raving frenzy of the motor, or the passive 
peeping contagion of the television screen. 

As we saw in the chapter on Totalitaria, mass delusion can be induced. It is simply a 
question of r organizing and manipulating collective feelings in the proper way. If one 
can isolate the mass, allow no free thinking, no free exchange, no outside corrective, 
and can hypnotize the group daily with noises, with press and radio and television, 
with fear and pseudo-enthusiasms, any delusion can be instilled. People will begin to 
accept the most primitive and inappropriate acts. Outside occurrences are usually 
the triggers that unleash hidden hysterical and delusional complexes in people. 
Collective madness justifies the repressed personal madness in each individual. 
That is why it is so easy to sloganizing people into the mass hysteria of war. The 
outside enemy who is attacked by vituperative slogans is merely the scapegoat and 
substitute for all the anger and anxiety that lives inside the harassed people. 

Delusions, carefully implanted, are difficult to correct. Reasoning no longer has 
value; for the lower, more animal type of thinking becomes deaf to any thought on a 
higher level. If one reasons with a totalitarian who has been impregnated with official 
cliches, he will sooner or later withdraw into his fortress of collective totalitarian 
thinking. The mass delusion that gives him his feelings of belonging, of greatness, of 
omnipotence, is dearer to him than his personal awareness and understanding. 

The lonely prisoner in a totalitarian prison camp is the more easily compelled to 
surrender gradually to the collective thinking of his guardians when part of his own 
infantile thinking has been conditioned to give in to strong suggestive power. He has 
to communicate with his guardians lest he be delivered to his own private delusions. 
Only a few remain their true selves in that heroic battle. 

The situation of our prisoners of war in Korea, who lived there for months and years, 
cannot be studied without taking into account the atmosphere of mass delusion. In a 
sphere filled with rumours without an opportunity to verify the facts, the mind is ever 
on the alert, but its observations are distorted. 


The process of mass brainwashing, with continual propaganda, made it very difficult 
for the individual to observe his comrades objectively. In such surroundings, it is 
easy to make an innocent scapegoat for all the suffering of the group-and facts can 
easily be hallucinated in such an atmosphere of mass contagion. 

In one of the prison camps, I had to make a report about a man who was exorcized 
and even attacked by the others because of his brute homosexual behaviour. During 
the investigation, no fact, no victim, could be reported. Rumours there were plenty, 
expressing hatred toward a lonely, sarcastic, unsocial being, who had aroused the 
latent homosexual feelings of the other campers, thereby attacking their manliness. 
No P.O.W. accused of collaboration with the enemy should be convicted without a 
study having been made of the rumours rampant in his camp. 

In totalitarian surroundings, hardly anyone keeps his thinking free of contagion, and 
nearly everyone becomes, albeit temporarily, the victim of delusion. 


The Danger of Mental Contagion 

Indeed, there is a continual danger of mental contagion. People are in constant 
psychic exchange with one another. As a country, we have to ask what dangerous 
mental pollution may come to us from the other side of the border. 

Let me make it crystal clear that I am far from insensitive to the danger of totalitarian 
subversion and aggression with which we are now faced. My own experiences with 
the Nazis made it painfully obvious to me that these dangers must not be minimized. 
As a psychologist, too, I am deeply aware of the contagious nature of totalitarian 
propaganda and of the fact that free citizens in a free country must be on their guard 
to protect themselves. But we must learn to fight these dangers in democratic ways; 
and I am afraid that too often in our fight against them we may take a leaf from the 
totalitarian book. Let me cite but one example of this. 

The Feinberg Law in New York State, enacted in order to protect children against the 
dissemination of dangerous political propaganda, is partly based on this concept of 
mental contagion. It aims, to protect the schools against the subtle infiltration of 
subversive ideas. It seems at first sight like a simple solution: you just stop, 
subversion before it can affect the impressionable minds of our children. 

But the fact remains that it presents all kinds of psychological, difficulties. In our fear 
of being polluted, we create norms and, schemes against which we measure the 
acceptability of unorthodox ideas, and we forget that the presence of minority ideas, 
acceptable or not, is one of the ways in which we protect ourselves against the 
creeping growth of conformist majority thinking in us. U.S. Supreme Court Justice 
Hugo Black, in his dissenting opinion on the Feinberg Law* made this point: 

This is another of those rapidly multiplying legislative enactments which make it 
dangerous ... to think or say anything except what a transient majority happens to 
approve at the moment. Basically these laws rest on the belief that Government 
should supervise and limit the flow of ideas into the minds of men. The tendency of 
such governmental policy is to mould people into a common intellectual pattern. 
Quite a different governmental policy rests on the belief that Government should 
leave the mind and spirit of man absolutely free. Such a governmental policy 
encourages varied intellectual outlooks in the belief that the best views will prevail. 
This policy of freedom is in my judgment embodied in the First Amendment and 
made applicable to the states by the Fourteenth. 

Because of this policy, public officials cannot be constitutionally vested with powers 
to select the ideas people can think about, censor the public views they can express, 
or choose the persons or groups people can associate with. Public officials with such 
powers are not public servants; they are public masters. 

We cannot prevent one mental contagion through enforcing another. The only way 
we can give man the strength to withstand mental infection is through giving him the 
utmost freedom in the exchange of ideas. 


People have to learn to ask questions without demanding that they be answered 
immediately. The free man is the man who learns to live with problems in the hope 
that they will be solved sometime-either in his own generation or the next. Man's 
curiosity and inquisitiveness have to be stimulated. We have to fight man's growing 
fear of thinking for himself, of being original, and of being willing to fight for what he 
believes in. On the other hand, we also have to learn to resist ideas. Governments 
may be overthrown not only by physical violence, but also by mental violence, by 
suggestive and menticidal penetration of young minds, by rigid conditioning, 
regimentation, and prohibition of dissent. 


The Explanation of Delusion 

One of the most coercive delusions is the explanation delusion, the need to explain 
and interpret everything because the person has a simple ideology in his pocket. 
Unwittingly the victim of this delusion wraps the magic cloak of omniscience around 
himself, and this provokes awe and submission in those men who have a strong 
need for rational explanation of phenomena they do not understand. The quack, for 
instance, with his gesture of omniscience pushes his victim into a kind of 
nothingness so that he feels himself become smaller and smaller in relation to the 
great mysteries of the world. It is this compulsive need to be the wise guy and the 
magician who knows all the answers that we so often find in the totalitarian world, 
and nobody, your author included, is completely free from seizing on these 
premature answers. 

It is among the intelligentsia, and especially among those who like to play with 
thoughts and concepts without really taking part in the cultural endeavours of their 
epoch, that we often find the glib compulsion to explain everything and to understand 
nothing. Their retreat into intellectual isolation and ivory-tower philosophy is a source 
of much hostility and suspicion from those who receive the stones of intellectualism 
instead of the bread of understanding. The intelligentsia has a special role in our 
democratic world as teachers of ideas, but every teaching is an emotional relation, a 
matter of loving your students. It is a moving among them and taking part in their 
doubts in order to share together the adventure of common exploration of the 

Paradoxically, we may say that we need the experience with the totalitarians if only 
to discover a reflection of their rigidities in our own democratic system. 


The Liberation from Magic Thinking 

In our Western civilization, the growth of the mass media of communication has 
increased the influence of collective pressure on both our prejudices and our 
unbiased thinking. We live in a world of constant noise which captures our minds 
even when we are not aware of it. 

Already we have in our society the problem of the lonely, unheard voices. I am 
convinced that there are many wise men among us whose voices and learning would 
help us to correct that part of our thinking which is delusional. But their wise words 
are shouted down by an excess of noise from elsewhere. In our society a man can 
not simply communicate his wisdom and insight any more; in order to be heard, he 
has to advertise and fortify it with megacyclic power and official labels. 

An organization must stand behind him and must make sure that he will be rightly 
timed so that there will be listeners to receive his message. He must have an 
acknowledged label and official diploma; otherwise his voice is lost. To correct mass 
delusion is one of the most difficult tasks of democracy. Democracy pleads for 
freedom of thought, and this means that it demands the right of all men to test all 
forms of collective emotion and collective thinking. This testing is possible only if 
constant personal and collective self-criticism is encouraged. 

Democracy must face this task of preserving mobility of thought in order to free itself 
from blind fears and magic. The clash and mutual impact of a variety of opinions 
which are characteristic of democracy may not directly produce truth, but they 
prepare the way. M At this very moment the whole world dances around a delusion, 
around the magic idea that the material and military power behind an argument will 
bring us nearer to the truth, and nearer to safety. Yet, one push of the button and the 
atomic missiles may lead us all to mutual suicide. 

In a world of warring and contrasting thoughts and delusions, the solution lies in the 
delineation of frontiers, of awareness of mutual limits. This agreement on what it is 
we disagree about is the first step to understanding. 



It is rather difficult to describe the onslaught on our minds made by the intrusion of 
technical thinking. This is so because technology has such contrasting influences. 
The influence can be a blessing, making us more independent of threatening forces 
of nature; but at the same time the tool and the machine can dominate us. This inner 
antinomy of technization we must master-will we not otherwise be dragged down into 
the maelstrom of ever-increasing technical development to final atomic catastrophe! 
The peculiar paradox of technology lies in this: gradually the well-being of the 
machine (autocar, factory) assumes greater importance and value than the well- 
being of man and mankind. 

The growth of technology, of the manifold mechanical instruments in the services of 
our fantasies, has thrown mankind back to an infantile dream of unlimited power. 
There he sits, the little man, in his room with various gadgets around him. Just 
pushing a button changes the world for him. What might! And what still further power 
he envisions! Yet what mental danger. 

The growth of technology may confuse man's struggle for mental maturity. The 
practical application of science and tools originally were meant to give man more 
security against outside physical forces. It safeguarded his inner world; it freed time 
and energy for meditation, concentration, play, and creative thinking. Gradually the 
very tools man made took possession of him and pushed him back into serfdom 
instead of toward liberation. Man became drunk with technical skill; he became a 
technology addict. Technology calls forth from people, unknown to themselves, an 
infantile, servile attitude. We have nearly all become slaves of our cars. Technical 
security paradoxically may increase cowardice. There is almost no challenge any 
more to face the forces of nature outside us and the forces of instinct within us. 
Because the very technical world has become for us that magical challenge which 
nature originally afforded. 

It is the very subservience to technology that constitutes an attack on thinking. The 
child that is confronted from early youth with all modern devices and gadgets of 
technology-the radio, the motor, the television set, the film-is unwittingly conditioned 
to millions of associations, sounds, pictures, movements, in which he takes no part. 
He has no need to think about them. They are too directly connected with his 
senses. Modern technology teaches man to take for granted the world he is looking 
at; he takes no time to retreat and reflect. Technology lures him on, dropping him 
into its wheels and movements. No rest, no meditation, no reflection, no 
conversation-the senses are continually overloaded with stimuli. The child doesn't 
learn to question his world any more; the screen offers him answers-ready-made. 
Even his books offer him no human encounter-nobody reads to him; the screen 
people tell him their story in their way. 


Technical knowledge forced upon him in this way makes no demand that he think 
about what he sees and hears. Conversation is becoming a lost art. The machine 
age rushes on, leaving no time for quiet reading and encounter with the creative arts. 
We do see a counter-current, however, in the do-it-yourself movement. Here we 
probably see a resurgence of the creative spirit and a challenge to the engineer who 
creates the robot. 

In an over-technical world, body and mind no longer exist. Life becomes only a part 
of a greater technical and chemical thought process. Mathematical equations intrude 
into human relations. We learn, for example, through the doctrine of guilt by 
association, the simple equation that the enemies of our enemies have to be our 
friends and that the friends of our enemies have to be our enemies-as if only simple 
addition of positive and negative signs exist by which to evaluate human beings. 


The Creeping Coercion by Technology 

Radio and television catch the mind directly, leaving children no time for calm, 
dialectic conversation with their books. The view from the screen doesn't allow for 
the freedom-arousing mutuality of communication and discussion. Conversation is 
the lost art. These inventions steal time and steal self-awareness. What technology 
gives with one hand-easiness and physical security-it takes away with the other. It 
has taken away affectionate relationships between men. The depersonalized 
Christmas card with its printed signature, the form letter, the very typewriter are 
examples of mechanical proxies. Technical intrusion usurps human relationships, as 
if people no longer had to give one another attention and love any more. The bottle 
replaces Mother's breast, the nickel in the automat replaces Mother's preparation of 
sandwiches. The impersonal machine replaces human gesture and mutuality. 
Children educated in this way prefer to be alone, with fantasies to escape into and 
gadgets to play with. Mechanization pushes them into mental withdrawal. 

Technology suggests and creates the feeling of man's omnipotence on the one 
hand, but on the other, the smallness of man, his weakness and inferiority compared 
with the might of machinery. The power of man's creative mind is disguised behind 
dreams of social machines and world mechanics. Mechanics in political 
manoeuvrings are overestimated and go beyond reason. We use intelligence and 
counterintelligence, trickery and political machines, forgetting the "emotional 
reasons" which underlie human brilliance and stupidity. There exists a relationship 
between naive belief in technology only and a naive belief in human intelligence, 
logic, and innocence that was part of the optimistic liberalist feeling prevalent in the 
nineteenth century. We see in both beliefs the denial of the irrational depths of the 

What is the ultimate result of technical progress? Does it drive people more and 
more to the fear and despair brought on by a love-empty push-button world? Does it 
create a megalomaniac happiness won by remote control of other people? Does it 
deliver people to the unsatisfying emptiness of leisure hours filled with boredom? Is 
the ultimate result living by proxy, experiencing the world only from the movie or 
television screen, instead of living and labouring and creating one's own? 

In cases of television addiction, I observed the following points: 

1 . The television fascination is a real addiction; that is to say, television can become 
habit-forming, the influence of which cannot be stopped without active therapeutic 

2. It arouses precociously sexual and emotional turmoil, seducing children to peep 
again and again, though at the same time they are confused about what they see. 

3. It continuously provides satisfaction for aggressive fantasies (western scenes, 
crime scenes) with subsequent guilt feelings since the child unconsciously tends to 
identify with the criminal, despite all the heroic avengers. 


4. It is a stealer of time. 

5. Preoccupation with television prevents active inner creativity children and adults 
merely sit and watch the pseudo-world of the screen instead of confronting their own 
difficulties. If there is a conflict with parents who have no time for their youngsters, 
the children surrender all the more willingly to the screen. The screen talks to them, 
plays with them, takes them into a world of magic fantasies. For them, television 
takes the place of a grownup and is forever patient. This the child translates into 

As in all mass media, we have to be aware of the hypnotizing, seductive action of 
any all-penetrating form of communication. People become fascinated even when 
they do not want to look on. We must keep in mind that every step in personal 
growth needs isolation, needs inner conversation and deliberation and a reviewing 
with the self. Television hampers this process and prepares the mind more easily for 
collectivization and cliche thinking. It persuades onlookers to think in terms of mass 
values. It intrudes into family life and cuts off the more subtle interfamilial 

The world of tomorrow will witness a tremendous battle between technology and 
psychology. It will be a fight of technology versus nature, of systematic conditioning 
versus creative spontaneity. The veneration of the machine implies the turning of 
mechanical knowledge into power, into push-button power. Mechanical instruments 
of destruction such as the H-bomb have translated the primitive human urge for 
destruction into large-scale scientific killing. Now, this destructive potential may 
become an easy tool for any potentate crazy for power. 

Driven by technology, our own world has become more interdependent, and through 
our dependence on technical knowledge and devices, we ourselves are in danger of 
delivering our people to the more brutal totalitarians. This is the actual dilemma of 
our civilization. The machine that became a tool of human organization and made 
possible the conquest of nature, has acquired a dictatorial position. It has forced 
people into automatic responses, into rigid patterns and destructive habits. 

The machine has aroused an ever-increasing yearning for speed, for frenzied 
accomplishments. There exists a psychological relationship between speedomania 
(frenzied swiftness) and ruthlessness. Behind the wheel in a fast car, a driver 
becomes drunk with power. Here again we see the denial of the concept of natural, 
steady growth. Ideas and methods need time to mature. The machine forces results 
prematurely: evolution is turned into revolution of wheels. The machine is the denial 
that progress has to grow within us before it can be realized outside ourselves. 
Mechanization takes away the belief in mental struggle, the belief that problem- 
solving needs time and repeated attempts. Without such beliefs, the platitude will 
take over, the digest and the hasty memorandum. A mechanized world believes only 
in condensation of problems and not in a continuous dialectic struggle between man 
and the questions he construes. 


One of the fallacies of modern technique is its direction toward greater efficiency. 
With less energy, more has to be produced. This principle may be right for the 
machine, but is not true for the human organism. In order to become strong and to 
remain strong, man has to learn to overcome resistances, to face challenges, and to 
test himself again and again. Luxury causes mental and physical atrophy. 

The devaluation of the individual human brain, replacing it by mechanical computers, 
also suggests the totalitarian system for which its citizens are compelled to become 
more and more the servile tools. The inhuman "system" becomes the aim, a system 
that is the product of technocracy and dehumanization and which may result in 
organized brutality and the crushing of any personal morality. In a mechanical 
society a set of values are forcibly imprinted on the unconscious mind, the way 
Pavlov conditioned his dogs. 

Our brains then no longer need to serve us or develop the thinking process; 
machines will do this for us. In technocracy, emphasis is on behaviour free of 
emotions and creativity. We speak of "electric brains," forgetting that actually 
creative minds are behind these brains and their frailties. For some engineers, minds 
have become no more than electric lamps in a totalitarian laboratory. Between man 
and his fellow man there has been interposed a tremendous, cold, paper force, a 
nameless bureaucracy of rules and tools. Mechanization has brought into being the 
mysterious "pimp" in human relations, the man in between, the mechanical 
bureaucrat, who is powerful but impersonal. He has become a new source of magic 

In a technocratic world every moral problem gets repressed and is displaced by a 
technical or statistical evaluation. The problems of sound and speedy mathematics 
serve to overthrow ethics. If, for instance, one investigates the inner life of the guards 
of the concentration camps and their inner troubles and tribulations, one understands 
why those jailers gave so much thought to the technical problem of how to get the 
murdered corpses of their victims out of the gas chambers as soon as possible. The 
words "clean" and "practical" and "pure" acquired for them a different dimension than 
our usual one. They thought in chemical and statistical terms -and stuck to them-in 
order not to be aware of their deeper moral guilt. 

The mind regarded as a computing machine is the result of compulsive 
rationalization and generalization of the world. This has been so since the time of 
early Greek thinkers. This concept implies denial or minimization of emotional life 
and of the value of marginal experiences. In such a philosophy, spontaneity is never 
understood-nor creativity and historical coincidence, nor the miracles of human 
communication as revealed by telepathy. Technology based on this concept is cold 
and without moral standards of living, without faith and "feeling at home" in our own 
world. It continually stimulates new dissatisfaction and the production of new luxury 
without knowing why. It stimulates greediness and laziness without emphasizing 
restraint and the art of living. Indeed, technology as a goal instead of a means gives 
us the fiction of simple equality instead of the continual pursuit of freedom, diversity, 
and human dignity. 


Technology disregards the fact that our scientific view of the world is only a gradual 
correction of our mythical and pre-scientific view. Technology, once a product of 
courageous fantasy and vision, threatens to kill that same vision, without which no 
human progress is possible. The idol, technology, must become a tool again and not 
the omnipotent magician per se, who drags us into the abyss. 

The industrial development in our Western culture created a new problem, that of 
making man more distant from the rhythm of nature. First industrial man was tied to 
factory and engine, and then technological progress increased leisure time, bringing 
a new question: leisure for what? 

The increased growth of time, and time space, and of the sizes of towns, and the 
reduction of distance through the increased means of transport affected deeply the 
roots of our feelings of belonging and security. The family-the atom of society-often 
became disrupted, and sometimes even deteriorated. The raving frenzy of the family 
car on Sunday replaced the quiet being together of family groups in mutual 
exchanges of affection and wisdom. 

Only when man learns to be mentally independent of technology -that means when 
he learns to do without-will he also learn not to be overwhelmed and swept away by 
it. People have to become lonely Robinson Crusoe's first, before they can really use 
and appreciate the advantages of technology. 

Our education has to learn to present simple, natural challenges and needs to the 
child in order to immunize him against the paralyzing and lazy-making tendencies of 
our technicized epoch. 


The Paradox of Technology 

Paradoxically enough, technical security may increase cowardice. The technical 
world we ourselves have created has replaced the very real challenge which nature 
originally afforded man's imagination, and man is no longer compelled to face the 
forces of nature outside himself and the forces of instinct within him. Our luxurious 
habits and complicated civilization have a tendency to appeal more to our mental 
passivity than to our spiritual alertness. Mentally passive people, without basic 
morals and philosophy, are easily lured into political adventures which are in conflict 
with the ethics of a free, democratic society. 

The assembly line alienates man from his work, from the product of his own labour. 
No longer does man produce the things man needs; the machine produces for him. 
Engineers and scientists tell us that in the near future automation-running factories 
without human help-will become a reality, and human labour and the human being 
himself will become almost completely superfluous. How can man have self-esteem 
when he becomes the most expendable part of his world? The ethical and moral 
values which are the foundation of the democratic society are based on the view that 
human life and human welfare are the earth's greatest good. But in a society in 
which the machine takes over completely, all our traditional values can be destroyed. 
In venerating the machine, we denigrate ourselves; we begin to believe that might 
makes right, that the human being has no intrinsic worth, and that life itself is only a 
part of a greater technical and chemical thought process. 

Man's progressive retreat toward a mechanized, push-button world is best illustrated 
by his love for automobiles and other machines. The moment he can retreat to his 
car seat and direct the world by remote control, he dreams an old, long -forgotten 
childhood dream of tremendous omnipotence. Man's servility to his automobile and 
other machines takes something away from his individuality. We are hypnotized by 
the idea of remote control. The wheels and the push-buttons give us a false sense of 
freedom. Yet, at the same time, the creative part of man resists the machine's cold, 
mechanical intrusion into his inner freedom. 

As I drive, every time I pass something beautiful along the road, be it an exhilarating 
view, a museum, a river, a tall tree, at that very moment a kind of tense conflict is 
aroused in me. Shall I stop the car and drink in the beauty around me or shall I give 
in to my machine and keep racing along? 

For the psychologist and biologist such behaviour raises important questions. How 
will it end? Will man's tendency to become more and more an immobile technological 
embryo finally get the better of him and his civilization? The Dutch anatomist Bolk - 
one of my teachers-long ago described the regressive retardation in growth 
characteristic of human beings as compared to the rapid development of the higher 
primates. As a result of the fetalization and anatomical retardation of man, he 
acquired his erect posture, the use of his grasping and verifying hands, the 
possibility of speech. This long youth made it possible for him to learn, and to build 
up his own thought world. 


Since the Renaissance and the advent of modern science, the scientist himself has 
been forced to retreat more and more to his technological womb-his laboratory, his 
study, his armchair. He has done this for the sake of greater intellectual 
concentration, but as a result he gradually became more isolated from living people- 
unobtrusively. Only in the last decades has the scientist begun to come in contact 
with social problems more and more, partly forced to do so by the growth of social 

From his magic corner, the scientist has learned how to control the world with his 
inventions and mental dictates. Increasingly the population has been seduced by the 
idea of remote control. The arsenal of buttons and gadgets leads us into the magic 
dream world of omnipotent power. Our technical civilization gives us greater ease, 
but it is challenge and uneasiness that make for character and strength. 

The repeated outlet in work, through which we not only sublimate our aggressions 
but also refine and recondition our instinctual aims, is grossly endangered by 
technical automatization. There exists an intimate relation between the rhythm of 
work and the rhythm of creation. In a world of mere leisure and no work discipline, 
our unleashed instincts would gain again. It is the alternating rhythm of work and 
leisure time that refines our enjoyment of leisure. 

A conference in New Haven sponsored by the Society for Applied Anthropology on 
the effects of automation on the workers* was told that the chief complaint of the 
workers was that increasing mental tension supplanted muscular fatigue. The strain 
of watching and controlling machines makes man jumpy, he develops gradually the 
feeling that the machine controls him instead of he * The New York Times, 
December 29, 1955. 

Several of my patients looked at machines as something alive, dangerously alive 
because machines had no love or other feelings for the man who used them. 

The dangerous paradox in the boost of living standards is that in promoting ease, it 
promotes idleness, and laziness. If the mind is not prepared to fill leisure time with 
new challenges and new endeavours, new initiative and new activities, the mind falls 
asleep and becomes an automaton. The god Automation devours its own children. It 
can make highly specialized primitives out of us. 

Just as we are gradually replacing human labour by machines, so we are gradually 
replacing the human brain by mechanical computers, and thus increasing man's 
sense of unworthiness. We begin to picture the mind itself as a computing machine, 
as a set of electrochemical impulses and actions. The brain is an organ of the body; 
its structure and its actions can be studied and examined. But the mind is a very 
different thing. It is not merely the sum of the physiological processes in the brain; it 
is the unique, creative aspect of the human personality. 

Unless we watch ourselves, unless we become more aware of the serious problems 
our technology has brought us, our entire society could turn into a kind of super- 
automatized state. Any breakdown of moral awareness and of the individual's sense 
of his own worth makes all of us more vulnerable to mental coercion. 


Nazi Germany gave us the frightful example of the complete breakdown of all moral 
evaluations. In the S. S. society, racial persecution and murder became a kind of 
moral rule. 

All this may sound extreme. But the fact remains that any influence-overt or 
concealed, well- or ill-intentioned-which reduces our alertness, our capacity to face 
reality, our desire to live as active, acting individuals, to assume responsibility and to 
face up to danger, takes from us some part of our essential human-ness, the quality 
in us which strives toward freedom and democratic maturity. 

The enforced mental intervention practiced by the totalitarians is deliberate and 
politically inspired, but mental intervention is a serious danger even when its purpose 
is non-political. Any influence which tends to rob man of his free mind can reduce 
him to robotism. 

Any influence which destroys the individual can destroy the whole society. 



Since social life has become more and more complicated, a new group of mediators 
between man and his goals has developed. It is no longer the ancient priest who 
mediates between man and his gods, between man and the powers beyond him, but 
a group of administrators have, in part, taken over the job of intervening between 
man and his government. There are today mediators between man and his bosses, 
between artist and public, between farmer and market, mediators between 
everything. The administrative mind is born, often dominating man's social behaviour 
and man's manifold contacts, leading him into complicated actions and compulsions 
far beyond spontaneous behaviour. 

All these ties, the rigid bureaucratic ones and the useful administrative ones, have 
their influence on human behaviour and often may befog man's free thinking. I have 
a special reason for developing this theme in a book on the rape of the mind 
because this problem of mediation between man and his actions and thoughts exists 
in our form of democracy as well as in the totalitarian countries. Both halves of the 
world are grappling with the involved problem of how to administer themselves. The 
mere technique of governing ourselves and our world can become a threat to free 
human development-and this may be independent of the ideology the administration 
adheres to. We have not the same freedom to choose the official men who govern 
us that we have to select our favourite shop or our doctor. As long as the official man 
is in charge, we are in his bureaucratic power. 


The Administrative Mind 

Administrators today cannot handle their jobs adequately within the limits of the 
simple knowledge of people and nations that served governments in former years. If 
our leaders can not take into account the irrational forces in themselves and in other 
men and nations, they may easily be swept off into the maelstrom of mass emotions. 
If they cannot learn to recognize that their private or official conduct often reflects 
their prejudices and irrationalities, they will not be able to cope with the often 
unexpected prejudices of others. If they are, for instance, not sensitive to the 
paradoxical strategy hidden behind the misleading Aesopian language of 
totalitarians, they will not be able to counter the cold war. Psychological knowledge 
has become a must in our era of confused human relations. 

Do our people in office, for instance, understand fully the provocative totalitarian 
strategy of slandering and wild accusation, and are they able to handle it 
adequately? Do they realize that the mere official denial never has as strong an 
appeal and impact as the initial accusation, and, in fact, usually fits into the accuser's 
strategy? Apparently they do not, for many still use simple official denial as a 
defense against the totalitarian strategy of accusation, when, in fact, only repeated 
exposure and ridicule of the very root of this technique can defeat it. 

Do they realize the implications of the strategy of raising sham problems? The 
totalitarian and the demagogue often use this confusing technique. By launching 
emotional inquiries and investigations and asking for attention for quasi problems, 
they seek to divert attention from their real aims. 

Do they understand, for instance, what lies behind the technique of exploiting the 
chivalry and generosity of the public and blackmailing the pity of the world? The 
strategy of complaining and calling for justice is a well-known mental defense used 
by neurotic individuals to arouse guilt feelings in others and to cover up their own 
hidden aggressiveness. The exploitation of pity and the overt declaration of one's 
own purity and honest innocence is a familiar trick when it is used by individuals, but 
we are less likely to recognize it when it is used in international politics. 

Do our administrators realize that even the romantic ideals of brotherly love and 
world peace can be used to cover up aggressive designs? After the First World War, 
we heard many inspiring idealistic catchwords from the defeated central European 
countries. Their press and their leaders described in great detail, for all the world to 
know, the "inner purification through suffering" of the defeated peoples. Thus these 
countries appealed to the conscience and compassion of the whole world. But it was 
a questionable conversion. Every therapist knows that those who talk a great deal 
about their inner change and recovery have for the most part not changed at all. The 
fine phrases are so often contradicted by actions. Politicians must recognize that this 
can be as true for nations as it is for individuals. Let us not forget that nations don't 
talk. Official words are made up by representatives with unofficial and mostly 
unknown inner motivations. 


Administrators, diplomats, and politicians form the nerve centres and paths of 
communication between peoples and nations. The tensions in the diplomatic regions 
represent the political tensions in the world. But they represent other things, too. The 
political profession is subject to special kinds of nervous tensions. The moment the 
administrator arrives at a top level, an inner change may take place. From then on, 
he can identify with those who formerly led him. The very fact of being in office and 
being a leader may change a man's mind in many ways. Often he removes himself 
more and more from human problems and from the people he represents and thinks 
only in terms of national strategy, official ideology, and the aims of power politics. Or 
childhood ambitions, long frustrated, are aroused. He may become the victim of his 
inflated personal ambitions and his individual notion of responsibility, and, as a 
consequence, lose control of his own personality. 

Leading statesmen, burdened by responsibilities, have to become more careful; 
indeed, they often have to express themselves in noncommittal language. Yet, they 
are not aware that such language gradually may reform their way of thinking. Finally, 
they may think they possess a priority on double talk. 

Another difficulty is related to a rather general fear of success. Once a high ambition 
is reached, a long-hidden fear from childhood may awake, a fear related to an early 
competition with the father and with the siblings. From this time on, the envy and 
hostility of those bypassed may start to injure the statesman's life. 

The danger of assuming any leadership-even of any form of self-assertion-is that it 
provokes resistance and hostility, retaliation and punishment. The administrator 
knows himself to be in the public eye; he feels exposed to criticism and political 
attack. If he didn't have it before, from now on he has to develop a defensive facade 
in order to court the public and the voters. The result may be that the former meek 
democrat, the believer in government by the people, suddenly takes on the stature of 
an authoritarian personality. He is guided by his frustrated infantile fantasy of 

The administrative "brain-thrusters," with all their inner problems, nevertheless make 
history for us. Our minds are deeply affected by their minds. At the same time, we- 
the great public-influence them, and our civilized impulses may direct them to find 
the good road, just as our primitive drives and influences may urge them on to push 
us all into catastrophe. The intrusion of the administrative mind becomes even more 
precarious when the authorities in power follow patterns of procedure not controlled 
by court and the law. In such cases, prejudice and arbitrariness can easily develop 
as we have experienced with many of our security regulations. Official secrecy is a 
token of magic power; the more hush-hush there is in the world, the less democratic 
control and the greater the fear of treachery. 

It should be, technically, quite simple to administer any group or nation-or even the 
whole world. Mankind certainly knows enough to do this job. We know a great deal 
about history, sociology, and the science of human relations and government, at 
least enough not to repeat the mistakes from history. We live in a world of technical 
and economic abundance. But we have not yet learned to apply what we know or to 
organize the resources of the world. 


Somewhere something has gone wrong, and things have gotten out of hand. The will 
of nations and people to understand one another seems to be paralyzed, and mutual 
fear and suspicion have been built up by the fantasies of mythical ideologies warring 
against one another. And tomorrow only the tails of the fighting dogs may remain. 
During the Second World War, I was sent as an official representative of the 
Netherlands government to an international meeting on welfare and war relief. Here I 
became even more aware of the extent to which private passions can mould the way 
we handle public problems. 

All of us at the conference had cold, expressionless faces which implied a sharp, 
unbiased form of thinking, but our unconscious minds were touched by other 
problems. Welfare is often much more a subject of hate than of love and sympathy. 
One's pride and prestige can play a much greater role than pity for the poor victim. 
The displaced persons and the people of the devastated and underdeveloped 
countries are very much aware of this fact. They do not like the role in which fate has 
cast them; they have to play the double role of the eternal victim who is not only the 
victim of politics and war, but also of the often arrogant provider of charity. As a 
matter of fact, the representative at the receiving end of the deal resented any offer 
made to his country. Everybody wants to be himself the generous "uncle from 


The Ailments of Those in Public Office 

In the future, as our psychological understanding grows, leading politicians will have 
to be better educated in the principles of modern psychology. Just as a soldier must 
know how to handle his physical weapons, so the politician must know how to face 
and handle the mental strategy of human relationships and diplomacy. He will have 
to become aware of the pitfalls in all human communication and the frailties of his 
own mind. 

Bodily disease and neurotic development can have all kinds of effects on those in 
office. Under their influence, some men are drawn into a life of continuous 
resentment, as if, in their political and official activities, they were fighting out their 
infantile struggles against devils, anxieties, and inner guilt. Others are purified by 
their sufferings and become wiser and more humane than they were. 

The modern science of psychosomatic medicine males it clear that constant 
worrying, continual competition, repressed aggressions, the will to dominate and to 
govern others, the fear of responsibility, the burden of one's chosen profession are 
among the many factors that influence body and mind to form a pattern of bodily 
reactions. These reactions may actually hamper our ability to solve our problems by 
incapacitating us physically. Becoming a chosen statesman in our era of increased 
human competition and increased dependence on the masses of voters builds up in 
officeholders qualities that are nearly psychopathic, that can cripple the body or the 
mind or both at a time when we need the healthiest and soundest leaders. The role 
the latent psychosis or character disorder plays in many a leading personality cannot 
be emphasized enough. Not long ago I treated the leader of a huge humanitarian 
association, who was accorded much esteem by his fellow citizens, but who was a 
sick, psychopathic tyrant in his own family circle. His children trembled at the sight of 
him and developed-of course-a cynical attitude about all idealism and 

I suspect that many times this pathology is influenced by the way we select our 
leaders. Public preference is often directed toward strong, defensive, 
overcompensated qualities of character which show up well at public functions. The 
outer facade is too much seen; we are not able to judge the inner core. 

In 1949, Burnett Hershey wrote an article which posed the question, Is our fate in the 
hands of sick men? The article was written after the tragic death of James Forrestal, 
the American Secretary of Defense, who committed suicide under the influence of 
despair and delusions of persecution. It describes in some detail the psychosomatic 
afflictions of various statesmen. Hershey quotes General George C. Marshall's 
words to the Overseas Press Club: "Stomach ulcers have a strange effect on the 
history of our times. In Washington I had to contend with, among other things, the 
ulcers of Bedell Smith in Moscow and the ulcers of Bob Lovett and Dean Acheson in 
Washington." The author goes on to point out that Stalin, Sir Stafford Cripps, Warren 
Austin, and Vishinsky also suffered from psychosomatic ailments, as does Clement 


All of us have heard of the repeated fainting spells of the Iranian ex-Premier, 
Mossadegh, the man who might, in a spell of semi-consciousness, have changed the 
balance of power in the Middle East. The much-debated and headlined Senator 
McCarthy is another case in point. At the height of his struggle for headlines, he had 
a stomach condition that required an exploratory operation, bursitis, frequent sinus 
headaches and signs of exhaustion-and all of these are known as psychosomatic 
involvements resulting from extreme tension. 

We have, too, many cheering examples of how physical disability and neurotic 
development can mature and strengthen the personality. Perhaps the brightest 
example of the relationship between body and profession is the late Franklin D. 
Roosevelt, whose political career was inconspicuous until he was stricken by 
poliomyelitis. His years of physical suffering became years of mental ripening. His 
conquest of pain and disease changed his attitude toward his own problems and 
also toward the problems of the world. His growth of empathy and humility, his 
increase in strategic intuition, and his superior knowledge of the balance of forces in 
his country must be partly attributed to his inner mental growth during his disease. 
Roosevelt will always be a guiding example of how the mind is able to overcome the 
physical limitations of the body, how the mind grows out beyond it when a man is 
willing to look inside and fight out the conflicts within himself. 


The Conference of Unconscious Minds 

Let me return for a moment to the wartime conference on welfare I mentioned earlier 
and tell you something more about it. The conference chairman did not feel well; 
every decision was as painful for him as his ulcer. He hemmed and hawed and 
refused to accept the responsibility the position placed on him. The representative of 
one of the eastern European countries was an attractive woman but a misanthrope. 
Every word she spoke was colored by suspicion, and when a representative from 
one of the Latin countries attempted a mild flirtation with her, she showed her 
confusion by arguing furiously against every one of his constructive proposals. 
We also had a hesitant, old-school, professional politician in our midst. Though he 
couched his speech in gentle, polite words, he spoke only to destroy every proposal 
that was not initiated by his faction. When he had to listen-and this he did not like to 
do at all-he busied himself constantly with his tie or his eyeglasses, always polishing 

In a crowded corner sat an enthusiastic young man who longed to do something 
important. He wanted to act, he wanted to see something accomplished, and his 
excitement was regarded by the others with sophisticated disdain. He did not know 
the rules of conference play. 

The sessions were boring. The delegates spoke endlessly and pointlessly. But one 
day the entire conference was gripped by a kind of uncontrollable fury. Every 
delegate tried to destroy all his colleagues. Someone had unexpectedly used the 
word "traitor" to designate a certain guerrilla group fighting in Europe, and the 
smooth discussion was suddenly transformed into a collision of the insurgent 
passions that had long smouldered behind suave masks. 

What agitation was aroused! What rage, what anger! But it was only temporary. It 
died down; our sophisticated conference spirit reasserted itself, and we settled down 
to do no work. The chairman made a polite summarizing speech, and we disbanded. 
The charitable work we planned so carefully is still undone, and many years have 

With dogged optimism, political leaders still convene to construct a new peace for 
the world. We know that many of them will suffer again from ulcers of the stomach, 
but what do we know of their deeper hidden wishes and resentments? 

Although I am afraid that the time is still far away when we shall subject our official 
representatives and administrators to psychological education and selection, we 
must become more aware of the many unconscious factors which influence them 
and us. 

Do political leaders try to understand one another and the groups they represent, or 
are they only measuring the power of their political machines, their words, and their 
votes? Are they guided by private resentments and ambitions or by the honest wish 
to serve the community and its ideals? 


Are our administrators mentally well equipped to do their tasks? If not, how could 
psychological insight gradually improve their equipment? 

How many of them are conscious of the extent of their private frustrations? Are their 
destructive impulses rationalized away under the guise of political allegiance? How 
do illness, disease, and neurosis collide in their deliberations? Watch how, in any 
debate, polite speeches are interrupted by sudden diatribes. 

To what degree do childhood rearing, fixed ideas, or pathological ambitions of 
administrators influence the destiny of a town or nation? 

We recognize that idealistic platitudes may cover inadequate proposals, and we tend 
to accept this as the well-worn play of political strategy and diplomacy. But far worse 
than this overt policy of evasion is the hidden political conference and discussion 
between the unconscious minds and passions of politicians. 

How many politicians and their followers are aware of this lurking undercurrent which 
often wields a stronger influence than overt action? How does the personal element 
between our administrators obstruct our own mental freedom, and what is the role of 
the psychopathic element in some of our leaders? 

It is important for us to ask these questions. For the development of science has 
taught us that, even when it is impossible to find immediate satisfactory solutions, 
posing the right question helps to bring clarity to the future. It prepares the way for a 


The Bureaucratic Mind 

In a state where terror is used to keep the people in line, the administrative machine 
may become the exclusive property and tool of the dictator. The development of a 
kind of bureaucratic absolutism is not limited, however, to totalitarian countries. A 
mild form of professional absolutism is evident in every country in the mediating 
class of civil servants who bridge the gap between man and his rulers. Such a 
bureaucracy may be used to help or to harm the citizens it should serve. 

It is important to realize that a peculiar, silent form of battle goes on in all of the 
countries of the world-under every form of government-a battle between the common 
man and the government apparatus he himself has created. In many places we can 
see that this governing tool, which was originally meant to serve and assist man, has 
gradually obtained more power than it was intended to have. 

Is Saint Bureaucratus a devil who takes possession of a man as soon as he is given 
governmental responsibility? Are administrators infected with a desire to create a 
sham order, to manipulate others from behind their green steel desks? 
Governmental techniques are no different from any other psychological strategy; the 
deadening hold of regimentation can take mental possession of those dedicated to it, 
if they are not alert. And this is the intrinsic danger of the various agencies that 
mediate between the common man and his government. It is a tragic aspect of life 
that man has to place another fallible man between himself and the attainment of his 
highest ideals. 

Which human failings will manifest themselves most readily in the administrative 
machine? Lust for power, automatism, and mental rigidity-all these breed suspicion 
and intrigue. Being a high civil servant subjects man to a dangerous temptation, 
simply because he is a part of the ruling apparatus. He finds himself caught in the 
strategy complex. The magic of becoming an executive and a strategist provokes 
long-repressed feelings of omnipotence. A strategist feels like a chess player. He 
wants to manipulate the world by remote control. Now he can keep others waiting, as 
he was forced to wait himself in his salad days, and thus he can feel himself 
superior. He can entrench himself behind his official regulations and responsibilities. 
At the same time he must continually convince others of his indispensability because 
he is loath to vacate his seat. 

As a defense against his relative unimportance, he has to expand his staff, 
increasing his bureaucratic apparatus. In order to become a V.I. P. one needs a big 
office. Each new staff member requests new secretaries and new typewriters. 
Everything begins to get out of hand, but everything must be controlled; new and 
better files must be installed, new conferences called, and new committees set up. 
The staff-interaction committee talks for days on end. New supervisors are created 
to supervise the old supervisors and to keep the whole group in a state of infantile 
servility. And what was formerly done by one man is now done by an entire staff. 
Finally, the bureaucratic tension becomes too great and the managerial despotic 
urge looks for rest in a nervous breakdown. 


This creeping totalitarianism of the desk and file goes on nearly everywhere in the 
world. As soon as civil servants can no longer talk humanely and genially but write 
down everything in black and white and keep long minutes in overflowing files, the 
battle for administrative power has begun. Compulsive order, red tape, and 
regulation become more important than freedom and justice, and in the meantime 
suspicion between management, employees, and subjects increases. 

Written and printed documents and reports have become dangerous objects in the 
world. After a conversation, even when there are harsh words, inanities are soon 
forgotten. But on paper these words are perpetuated and can become part of a 
system of growing suspicion. 

Many people become administrators in public affairs out of idealistic feelings of 
service and avocation. Others try to escape the adventure of life by becoming part of 
the civil service corps. Such service assures them a settled income, regular 
promotion, and a sense of job security. It is very alluring, this feeling of security. The 
smooth automatism and polished rigidity of the red-tape world is very attractive to 
certain types of men, but it may devitalize others who still believe in challenge and 

The burning psychological question is whether man will eventually master his 
institutions so that these will serve him and not rule him. In totalitarian countries one 
is not permitted to see the humour of one's own shortcomings. The system, the red 
tape, and the manifold files become more important than the poor being lost in his 
chair behind a huge desk, looking much too important for his mental bearings. 

The art of being a leading administrator, of being a genuine representative of the 
people is a difficult one, requiring multiple empathy and identification with other 
people and their motivations. 

Diplomats and politicians still believe in verbal persuasion and argumentative tactics. 
It is a very old and alluring game, this strategy of political manoeuvring with official 
slogans and catchwords the subtlety of bypassing the truth in the service of 
partisanship, of giving faulty emphasis, the skill of dancing around selected 
arguments to arrive at personal propagandistic aims or party aims. Sooner or later 
nearly all politicians become infected with the bug. Under the burden of their 
responsibilities, they give in to the desire to play the game of diplomacy. They start 
to compromise in their thinking, to bend backwards and to be circumspect, lest their 
remarks be criticized by the higher echelons. Or they fall back into infantile feelings 
of magic omnipotence. They want to have their fingers in every pie-to the left and to 
the right. 

All these are dangerous mental streaks of every human being which can develop 
more easily in politicians and administrators because of the growing impact of 
modern governmental techniques and their threat to free expression. When a man 
gets entangled in strategical and political talk, something changes in his attitude. He 
is no longer straightforward; he doesn't express and communicate what he thinks, 
but he worries about what others are thinking about him behind their facades. 


He becomes too prudent and starts to build all kinds of mental defences and 
justifications around himself. In short, he learns to assume the strategic attitude. 
Forget spontaneity, deny enthusiasm; don't demand inner honesty of yourself or 
others, never reveal yourself, never expose yourself, play the strategist. Be careful 
and use more buts and howevers. Never commit yourself. 

I remember a leader of the opposition who became completely confused and nearly 
collapsed when, after a long time out of office, his party won an election and he had 
to assume governmental responsibility. From an aggressive, outspoken critic, he 
became a hesitating, insinuating neurotic, playing the tactful strategist, having no 
real initiative. 

Some politicians are puppets, spokesmen of their bosses. Some are the cavalier 
jugglers of words, who transfer human aggressions into slogans. There are also the 
loudmouthed trumpeters of doom, who resort to the argument of panic. Modern 
politics is carried out with obsolete rules of conversation, communication, and 
discussion; and too few politicians are aware of the semantic pitfalls and emotional 
dishonesties of the word tools they must use to convince others. 

Yet mutual understanding can become a basis of political strategy. It is not power 
politics with verbal deceit and catchwords that is needed but mental probing to find 
ways in which proposals and suggestions may cut through the resistance of those 
with different opinions and motivations. 

Politicians too often forget that their fight for administrative power may become a 
form of psychological warfare against the integrity of the minds of those who are 
compelled to listen. The repetitious mutual calumny, so often used during elections, 
gradually undermines the democratic system and leads to the urge for authoritarian 
control. The strategic rumours and suspicions the politicians sow are an attack on 
human integrity. 

When the citizenry no longer has confidence in its leaders, it looks for the man with 
brute power to be its leader. Where is the politician who is willing to admit that his 
opponent is at least as capable as he, and perhaps even more capable than he is? 
In the free admission of equality of ability and of the wisdom of his opponent lies the 
politician's chance for cooperation. For true cooperation can only be brought about 
by mutual empathy and sympathy and the understanding of human faults. 

In April, 1951, a group of psychologists, psychoanalysts, and social scientists 
affiliated with the United Nations, the World Federation of Mental Health, UNESCO, 
and the World Health Organization were guests of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation in 
New York. This was a meeting at which these problems of government, and the 
impact of governmental systems, were explored and discussed and published later 
in a report. These experts have become more and more aware of the need for 
psychological education and selection of government administrators. 


Should our administrators be psychoanalyzed? This nearly Utopian question does 
not predicate an immediate rush for psychological training for politicians and 
administrators, but it does point toward a future period when practical intelligence 
and sound psychological knowledge will guide man in the various aspects of his life. 

Education will be more fully permeated with dependable psychological knowledge. 
Psychology and psychoanalysis are still young sciences, but many of our present- 
day politicians could already profit by them. Through gain in self-insight, they would 
become more secure in the strategy of world guidance. They would assume more 
responsibility-not only for their successes, but also for their failures. And they would 
take more responsibility, with fewer inner qualms, for the good and welfare of all. 

At this very moment our failure to solve the problems of governmental inefficiency 
and bureaucratic intrusion into human actions may hamper the citizen's mind in its 
development. Man's need to conform is in constant battle with man's need to go out 
on his own. The tie-up of our spontaneous freethinking with the unadventurous 
administrative mind has to be studied and the problem it presents solved by the 
psychology of the future. 




As soon as "treason" is mentioned, something in man's soul is stirred. Anger and 
scorn, suspicion and anxiety are aroused, and people want to avoid the subject. The 
social reaction toward a traitor-even before we are certain that the accusation is 
deserved is very spectacular. Former friends of a man accused as a "traitor" retreat 
and withdraw from this token of evil. In every trial of traitors we feel inwardly, 
personally accused and guilty. 

This is one of the reasons that treason trials make such deep impressions and 
provoke the most confusing discussions. Dictators can use such trials to cast a spell 
on the public. In a book on mental coercion and the rape of the mind, an 
investigation of the problem of treason and loyalty is needed. 

The Involuntary Traitor 

Self-betrayal comes out of all human pores. SIGMUND FREUD 

In my home town in Holland there was a little barbershop quite near the government 
buildings. It was owned by a small man with a gray French beard. Through the years 
he had served many of the country's most important men. Diplomats and cabinet 
ministers, proud generals and aggressive leaders of the opposition they all wanted 
his service. The little barber was always very courteous and agreeable, eager to 
please his clients. He danced with prim, servile gestures around them while curling 
their hair and looking after their moustaches. As he worked, he would ask his 
distinguished clients polite questions: "What is His Excellency So-and-So going to 
say about this bill?" "How does the Minister of State feel about that one?" He was not 
really interested in politics at all, but the little barber knew that his clients were 
flattered by such questions. 

And then one day a puffy, beribboned German general walked in and settled himself 
in the barber's chair-the Netherlands had been invaded and occupied by the Nazi 
hordes. Of course, our barber knew this, and he had even managed to hate the 
invaders for a few days. But he was innately a genteel soul, and he lathered the 
general's face himself and took care not to soil his uniform. On succeeding days, 
others of these strangely uniformed men appeared in the shop, and the little barber 
served them all well. The military men were followed by the Brown Shirts and then 
the Green Shirts of the Gestapo. The leather of the barber's chair was scuffed by the 
huge black boots. But the little barber did not complain, and soon the occupiers 
considered his haircut the most fashionable and best that could be obtained in the 
entire city. 


Our barber was not too conscious of his increasing official importance. He danced 
attendance on his new clients with as much courtesy as he had showed the 
diplomats of the old days. He was sorry that his old acquaintances had gradually 
disappeared. But in the past his work had been seasonal; when parliament was not 
in session, his shop had been empty. Now his business flourished all the time. The 
Germans and the collaborators liked the little barbershop, the perfume, the barber's 
skill. Indeed, our amiable friend was well liked by the uniformed oppressors. They 
were, after all, thoroughly unused to friendly treatment; the barber's behaviour was a 
welcome change from the contempt with which most of the Dutch people-those 
stupid, stubborn resisters-regarded them. 

One day the barber was invited to buy a membership card in a newly formed 
organization of collaborators. Our friend responded to this request as he would have 
to any other appeal for charity. He did not like to give, but he thought of welfare as a 
special tax on business, and so he resigned himself to paying as a petty, necessary 
annoyance. Some of his old acquaintances warned him of the consequences; he 
would be accused of collaboration and treason. But he pacified them by saying, "I 
am a barber, and I live as a barber. I have absolutely no interest in politics. I only 
want to serve my clients." 

When, after the bitter years of struggle and oppression, liberation came, our friend 
became officially known as a traitor and a collaborator. When the black-booted, 
uniformed supermen were thrown out, their collaborating friends were imprisoned, 
the barber among them. After he had served a part of his sentence, a wise and 
forgiving judge sent our barber back to his little shop. The first excitement of 
liberation had passed, and people were becoming more willing to forgive those who 
had been collaborators because they had been weak-hearted. 

Our story is by no means finished. The barber came back from prison a beaten man. 
He had been in jail for three months; he still could not understand what had 
happened to him. He brooded constantly over his shameful days in jail. An injustice 
had been done him. He had served his fellow men as a well-behaved, virtuous 
citizen should, and he had been treated like a criminal. He felt self-righteous, 
abused, insulted, maltreated and misunderstood. After all, he had only wanted to be 
kind and helpful. He was a barber-nothing more. 

The barber could not rid himself of his bitterness and resentment. None of his former 
friends came to cheer him up or to sympathize with him. His old clients did not 
return. His sadness and depression increased daily and in a few months he took his 
own life. And so ended the adventures of a little barber who had been completely 
unaware of his collaboration and his treachery. 

I knew this man. I do not despise him-not at all. I am sure there were many such 
pitiful collaborators. I wonder, though, why the little barber was so unaware. Was it 
stupidity? Had his apparent kindness always covered up a resentment against his 
fellow men? Was he misled by an insidious wave of suggestion stronger than his 
mental capacity to resist? We will never know. 


This tragedy, caused perhaps by unawareness, perhaps by the inability to choose 
between conflicting loyalties, stimulated me to investigate the problem of the traitor. I 
had ample opportunity to study this question, both through my experiences with the 
Dutch underground during the Nazi occupation, and when I was imprisoned in a 
Vichy detention camp. My first official analysis was made in 1943, when the Dutch 
government asked me to prepare a psychological report on disloyal Dutch soldiers 
and citizens being held in detention on the Isle of Man. 

I arrived at the prison after a hazardous, stormy journey in a small airplane. The 
prisoners were a sorry lot. I had anticipated hostility, but I had not expected to find so 
many weaklings, consumed by bitterness and anger. Some of them were typical of 
the passive, egotistic, psychopathic personality, whose motto seems to be: "Let the 
world go to hell! I will never conform." Others seemed to be the victims of an 
unbearable inner struggle-a conflict between their desire to belong to the stronger 
group and their resistance to this desire, a resistance which only increased their 
bitterness and antagonism. 

This was a situation which proved to me again that there are certain times when 
logic and discussion are no help at all. We tried over and over again to convince the 
semi-collaborators that they should join with us in the fight against the Nazis, but 
they only retreated further behind their private grudges. They even refused the 
cigarettes I offered them. 

Bad as the trip to the prison had been, the trip back was even worse. The little plane 
was pushed off course by strong winds. I was depressed and disgusted by my 
experiences, and when we finally arrived in England, both the pilot and I were sick. 
I had many opportunities thereafter to study spies, traitors, and subversives. My last 
official wartime investigation took me to a prison camp in Surinam, Dutch Guinea, 
where I made a collective report on all the inhabitants of the prison camp. In many of 
them, I could discern neurotic and even psychotic traits. 

But I have found that perhaps the best understanding of the problem of treason has 
come to me from my psychiatric work with neurotic patients who have to face a daily 
struggle with the little betrayals of everyday life, with their own self -betrayal, and with 
their ambivalent feelings toward those they should love. 


The Concept of Treason 

Before looking into the subject further, let us make an enquiry into the meaning of 
the word "treason." It is, after all, used in a confusing variety of senses. The word 
"treason" has many social and political implications, and the customs, habits, and 
mores of the group in which it is used affect and color its meaning. 

The word itself is derived from the Latin tradere or transdare, to deliver wrongfully, to 
betray, to give something across, to give loyalty and secrets away. But from this root, 
the word has acquired a variety of meanings. 

In the first place, it has a purely emotional, individual meaning related to feelings of 
deprivation and injustice. The infant often experiences all that compels him out of his 
state of bliss and dependency-which means the very act of growing up-as a betrayal, 
and sees treason in what he considers rejection by his parents. The person who 
retains these infantile feelings in his adult life may react to every fancied slight or 
rejection as to an act of treason or betrayal. 

Lack of solidarity with the family or clan-with the in-group not conforming to its rituals 
and taboos has often been interpreted by the group as treason, treason through 
dissent. In this sense, the word implies a primitive moral evaluation; disgust and 
contempt are associated with it. Treason indicates something deeply emotional, 
something taboo, something different or strange, like allegiance to an alien ideology, 
a breach of traditions, or the simple fact of being a foreigner. Rejection of the norms 
and rules of the community, being one's own judge of morality and ethics, is often 
considered treasonable. 

Utter rejection of the traditions of one's fatherland is an extreme. Often simple 
nonconformity may be considered treasonable, too. Indeed, in Totalitaria 
nonconformity and dissent are the most serious crimes against the system, and 
totalitarian minds have a tendency to look upon even honest mistakes or differences 
of opinion as deliberate treachery. 

Because of its deep emotional content, the very word itself can be used as a political 
tool with which to manipulate people. In Totalitaria it becomes merely a Pavlovian 
sign, triggering off reactions of distrust and hatred. After a military defeat or a 
diplomatic disappointment, or whenever feelings of humiliation and inadequacy run 
high among the people, it is useful strategy to get them to project their sense of 
inferiority onto others. The "traitor" is in such a case an easy scapegoat who satisfies 
the collective need to project blame and to relieve unconscious anxiety. In a 
totalitarian society every citizen is compelled to become a traitor, according to our 
own Western sense of decency, because it is his duty to betray to the regime every 
expression of dissension or rebellion. The child has to report his father, the father his 
child; they are even called traitors in the totalitarian sense as soon as they fail to 


In the common political interpretation, treason is an act of rebellion, sedition, schism, 
heresy, conspiracy, or subversion. Its technical-juridical meaning is well known to 
everybody. Treason is adhering to enemies and giving aid and comfort to them; it is 
also, in a more modern, modified sense, taking part in an international ideological 
conspiracy against the fatherland. 

To me, as a psychiatrist, its relation to the general problem of self-betrayal is the key 
to an understanding of the word. The germ of treason arises first in the individual's 
compromises with his own principles and beliefs. After these initial compromises 
have been made, it becomes easier to go on and on, to make more and more 
compromises, until finally the compromiser may become the man who is willing to 
sell himself and his services to the highest bidder. During the Nazi occupation, we 
saw this among those who were seduced to do little services for the enemy. The first 
step led to the second and then to final collaboration. It is because all of us do doubt 
ourselves from time to time, because we are unsure of what we would do if we were 
put to the test, and because we may see in ourselves a potential traitor, that the 
word "treason" has such highly emotional appeal. 

But self-doubt is a far cry from actual treason, and the real traitor in the morbid sense 
of the word, is not merely a self-doubter. He is a man who believes only in his ultra- 
personal rights and who scorns the rights and wishes of the community. He is 
disloyal even to his own gang. Hitler, for example, was a traitor not only to his own 
ideas, handling them as changeable tools to help him gain and maintain power, he 
was repeatedly a traitor to his closest friends and collaborators, many of whom he 
betrayed and murdered in 1934, during what has been called the night of the long 
knives. The real traitor is a person with egocentric delusions and the conscious 
conviction that he alone is right. He is a very different type from an involuntary, 
pathetic, unaware traitor like our little barber. 


The Traitor who Consciously takes Option for the Other Side 

In my study of political traitors and collaborators, I found that most of them shared 
two common characteristics: they were easily influenced by minds stronger than their 
own, and none of them would admit his disloyalty as an act of treason. The traitors I 
interviewed always volunteered innumerable justifications of their behaviour, always 
surrounded their treachery with a complicated web of sophisms and rationalizations. 
Actually, they could not tolerate an objective picture of their actions. If they did, they 
would condemn themselves out of their own mouths. Unconsciously, most of them 
realized the nature of their crimes and were tormented by guilt feelings. These guilt 
feelings would have been unbearable if they admitted, even to themselves, the 
enormity of their deeds. 

During the Nazi occupation of the Low Countries, I saw these qualities demonstrated 
again and again. Many of our native traitors were spineless people, ready to accept 
almost any new idea or elaborate theory. Their suggestibility was their greatest 
liability. Most of these would-be Nazis had never possessed strong personality ties of 
their own. They had failed in their ambitions and had been disappointed in life, and 
they readily transferred their frustrated personal longings to political will-o'-the-wisps. 
After the German invasion and occupation, these people confronted their defeated 
countrymen with triumphant l-told-you-so's. They boasted proudly of their wisdom in 
having bet on the right horse. They gained a tremendous feeling of self-importance, 
and their newly acquired, blown-up self-assurance, backed by the enemy's armed 
force, made them hard and contemptuous of their compatriots. 

In an effort to justify their own behaviour and their greed for power, they tried to 
convert others to their new way of life. They were possessed by a compulsion to 
become propagandists for the invader. Turncoats always try to soothe their own bad 
consciences by persuading others to share their crime. 

Of course, they had some real grievances. Everybody does. But these traitors were 
influenced less by them than by fancied injustices. Through acts of treason, they 
avenged themselves on society for the private wrongs they had suffered because of 
their personal failures. Their resentments could be felt in everything they said. 

The Nazi strategists were experts in exploiting this sense of dissatisfaction. They 
seemed to know intuitively whether or not an individual could be ensnared by Nazi 
propaganda. One case I knew of in Holland concerned the ex-director of a large 
concern who had been ousted from his position on ethical grounds. Early in the 
occupation, this man received an invitation to join the Nazi ranks, and in a 
surprisingly short time he became the leader of an important Nazi business. The 
Nazis gave him the feeling of having been vindicated. 

Among the recruits for the Nazi police force in the occupied territories were turncoats 
of all sorts and even the inmates of asylums for the criminally insane. The 
pathological grudge these people had against society was the foil by which the Nazis 
turned them into traitors. The Germans themselves despised these men, but they 
were cunning enough to put them to the best possible use. 


The Nazis also played a strange game with some authors and artists who had not 
received enough appreciation. The enemy flattered these men by buying and 
praising their work. The artists were first told that they could write and create as they 
pleased, without fear of interference. Gradually, little political services were asked of 
them, tiny little concessions like a favourable report of a meeting or a favourable 
reference to a philosophy with which they did not agree. 

It is the impact of that first little concession that starts the inner avalanche of self- 
justification that finally leads to self-betrayal. Following the first compromise and self- 
justification comes the second; and this one is met with shrewder self-exculpations. 
After all, the compromiser has had experience in rationalization by now. The 
repeated concessions turn into submission and voluntary cooperation. As I said 
before, once a man is seduced into a small ideological concession, it is very difficult 
for him to stop. From now on his imagination produces enough justifications which 
help him maintain his self-respect. 

The inwardly insecure traitor always feels the urge to identify with the enemy-the 
hostile invader. He has never "belonged," never had a feeling of identification with 
his own group, has never felt the rewards of such cohesion, nor has he won the love, 
sympathy, and respect of his fellows. Therefore he wants to join the "others." He 
may even go so far as to call his former friends traitors. Lord Haw-Haw (William 
Joyce), the British traitor who was executed by his government, considered himself a 
real "Aryan German," and in this way justified his fight against England. 

In the hectic days immediately following the Nazi invasion of Holland, I myself felt an 
occasional inner temptation to go over to the enemy, to the stronger party, with its 
powerful organizations, all ready to support one, to back one up. I even had a dream 
about visiting Hitler and convincing him in a childish and friendly way of the 
righteousness of our cause. I did not succumb to this dream temptation, but there 
were a few who fell for such infantile pictures and were unable to withstand their 
need to submit. The need to conform, to be accepted, to be safe and respectable, is 
deeply embedded in man. In our analysis of the inner forces that lead men to 
surrender their mental integrity under the pressure of prison and concentration -camp 
life, we saw how important a role this mechanism plays. Living in a country occupied 
by the enemy is by no means as horrifying as living in a P.O.W. or concentration 
camp, but it is, nevertheless, frightening, and in this frightening situation, the need to 
conform may show itself in surrender to the enemy ideology. Those who resisted this 
need, even though they felt it, usually became even more fervently anti-Nazi as a 
consequence of their guilt feelings about this impulse to treachery. 

This war experience taught us another truth: traitors can be made by overwhelming 
collective suggestions. In the ambiguous chaos of shouting ideologies and changing 
values, the mind becomes sullen and stubborn, and where there is immaturity and 
lack of inner control, it may become confused in its loyalties and simply surrender to 
the most powerful group. 

The Nazis, with their perverted political methods, tried to supply the weak, the 
ambitious, the disgruntled, and the frustrated with a ready-made set of bogus ideals 
to justify surrender to their side. 


In Mein Kampf, Hitler says that when the disappointed are given a sense of 
importance, they will swallow every suggestion with the utmost docility. He knew that 
human weakness-even kindness can be used as a starting point for a systematically 
nurtured conversion. Hitler knew, too, that unlimited political terror could make a 
traitor of almost anyone. Spread fear, terror, and hunger, inflict penetrating pain, and 
finally, as a result of mental coercion and growing confusion, many will succumb and 
even betray their own families. In many of the concentration camps, the victims 
themselves were in charge of the gas chamber killings and kept their gruesome jobs 
until their own turns came. Fear and terror had made will-less slaves out of them. 

There is still another human characteristic that can lead to treason and betrayal. 
There are some people who simply do not know where their loyalties belong. The 
case of Klaus Fuchs, the man who betrayed atomic secrets to Russia, is a dramatic 
example of this. Here was a highly intelligent person, an expert on the most difficult 
theoretical problems, lost in a sea of conflicting loyalties. Because of the Nazi 
persecution of his Quaker family, he adopted a new fatherland, England. In the 
meantime, he carried a dream of a mystical universal world which he thought to find 
in the totalitarian ideology. In the midst of his confusion about world problems, he 
simply did not know where his loyalty should be. 

This was not a case of schizophrenia or a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation, as the 
newspapers reported, but a case of confusion of loyalties in a hyper-intellectual 
mind. Fuchs did not know emotionally where he belonged. 

In other cases people were literally pushed into treason and collaboration because 
nobody in their environment trusted them. This happened, for instance, in Flanders 
with the collaborators of the First World War. Several of them were compelled to 
become collaborators again. 

This analysis of the factors that lead men to treason certainly does not imply that 
every man must remain loyal to the group from which he has originally received his 
morals and ideals. Better insight and higher ethics may override our childhood 
loyalties. It is the fate and the need of human beings to go beyond their teachers and 
to correct, if possible, the traditional rules of their schools. The great philosopher 
Socrates was accused of being a "traitor" because he "corrupted the minds of the 
youth of Athens." And yet today we know that Socrates was far from being a 


Our Treacherous Intellect 

Perhaps the most tragic form of unobtrusive treason and self betrayal is caused by 
the inertia of the human intellect. We are often betrayed by our own minds. We 
forget completely what we want to forget. We deny the existence of real problems in 
order to retreat into wishful thinking. As soon as we do not understand and feel the 
implications of a problem or an argument, we tend to submit passively to the most 
powerful side, just as did the overfriendly barber. The ease with which human beings 
can be corrupted is still one of our most serious psychological and moral problems. 
Inner confusion can make us submissive to almost any strong suggestion from the 
outside, no matter how foolish or false. 

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to 

There are other more complicated tricks of the intellect which lead to self -betrayal. 
The feeling of inferiority often arouses in ignorant people a great desire to grasp 
extremely difficult ideas. Such people like to identify themselves with a quasi- 
profound system of thought. Hitler and his abstruse writings made temporary 
pseudo-philosophers and magicians out of the majority of German people. All 
dictatorial totalitarians buy the services of scholars who can make them such a set of 
pseudo-philosophic justifications. 

Unfortunately, some scholars are easy to buy. In Holland, for example, there was a 
not too intelligent philosopher who became converted to Nazism after it had shown 
its overpowering strength. Thereafter he felt free to write on the most abstruse 
philosophical subjects and to expound the most complicated theories, all for the 
glorification of his powerful friends from the Third Reich and their myth of conquering 
the whole world. At the same time, he built a system of inscrutable words around his 
own deep feelings of guilt; he isolated himself from the world more and more 
because no words were convincing enough to justify his treason to himself. In the 
end he lost all contact with reality. Then, of course, the Nazis had no use for him 



As we have seen, there are various inner motivations which may lead to the crime of 
disloyalty or treason. Sometimes these motivations operate very subtly, in ways 
unknown to the subject; sometimes treason is merely a crude selling out to those 
who pay best. Let us try to arrange and classify some of these motivations, starting 
with the unconscious ones and ranging toward deliberate treason. 

In the first place, an act of self-betrayal may begin as a defense against the feeling of 
being lost and rejected. In order to win acceptance in a group, the individual may 
hide and not defend his private beliefs and convictions when attacked. In psychology 
this may be called-if such passive behaviour becomes an unconscious habit-the 
passive submission to and identification with the stronger person. If you cannot beat 
the enemy, join him! (A. Freud) 

Although the concept of the inner traitor in us is not so easy to accept, by studying 
the contrasting inner drives that lead man, one becomes more convinced of that 
possibility. The clinical concept of man's inner ambivalence is based on numerous 
psychological experiences. In studying the deeper motivations of many a traitor, we 
often see that his treacherous act happened after an inner turmoil threatened to 
break him down, to make an uncontrolled nervous wreck out of him. It is as if the 
future mental patient preferred to surrender to an outward enemy rather than to the 
inward enemies of disease and nervous breakdown. Hess was on the verge of a 
schizophrenic breakdown when he broke Hitler's rules and flew to England. 

Let us consider the British foreign office spies, Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess.* 
Both showed several symptoms of imminent mental breakdown. It may be known to 
the reader that both these men left England in May, 1951, in order to go via France 
to Russia. Both deliberately fled the country. Both had Communist leanings during 
their student days at Cambridge but later renounced their adolescent affiliations. 
Both showed abnormal symptoms during their service. Maclean had a breakdown in 
May, 1950, due to overwork and excessive drinking; Burgess was reprimanded for 
reckless driving while in service and for neglect of his work. Reading through the 
report, one is surprised by the amount of mental instability which was tolerated at 
such a sensitive spot of the government. Both the men had homosexual leanings 
that can be related to a suppressed hostility for their mothers (and mother country). 

Sometimes treason means a one-sided appeal to justice. This is found in the man 
who demands some sort of private protective justice and who refuses to 
acknowledge the subtle relationship between rights and duties. Such persons always 
feel continually deprived and betrayed. They are what Bergler calls the "injustice 
collectors:" In their acts of disloyalty they are seeking to play the role of their own 
private judges. Many querulous and even paranoiac persons have this kind of 
character structure. 


Then there is the disappointed pseudo-idealist who gradually turns into a cynic, 
covering his emptiness by many self-justifications and exculpations. Such people 
betray their intellectual disappointment in all their debunking remarks. 

Conflicts between parents may give rise in the child to the need to betray one or both 
parents, and this need may be transferred in later life to a need to betray the 
fatherland. I have often found that the unsolved ties of hate and love toward the 
parents play an important role in forming the turncoat personality. As we saw, this 
problem often lies at the root of the totalitarian character structure. Although the 
totalitarian-minded are not by definition overt traitors, some of these people can 
easily become traitors to free, democratic ideals-either out of compulsive allegiance 
to a foreign ideology or out of repetitive non-conformism. 

In describing special characteristics of a political group, one has to keep in mind that 
basic inner contrasts are inherent in all people. The quasi-rational Marxistic 
interpretation of the world, which satisfies the need for logical clarification and 
reasonable organization of social life, covers anxiety created by the irrational inner 
forces so easily detected in the totalitarian-minded. The cult of the "masses" often 
serves as a defense against loneliness. The belief in progress may be born out of 
vague despair and insecurity. The fear of deviationism is the fear that the unity of the 
group will be broken. Suspicion and self-criticism serve to keep, above all, the in- 
group together. 

There are several forms of inner conceit that can turn man into a traitor. The Dutch 
philosopher of whom I spoke earlier is an example of this, as are any of the verbose 
ideological apologists for totalitarianism. 

Lack of confidence or lack of belief in the guiding traditions and aims of one's own 
society can also lead to hostility, then to treason. Without such traditional beliefs, 
suggestibility and receptivity for competing ideologies are increased. The Klaus 
Fuchs case, which was mentioned earlier, is an example of this. 

The personal need to be a pioneer or a martyr, often instilled by the unconscious 
need to suffer, may lead to a private messianic delusion and cause an attack on the 
traditional values of the group. Many groups consider such extremism as 
treacherous behaviour. 

Another form of self-betrayal may be caused by the inability to grasp the complexity 
of the real world. Many people have been seduced into unstable behaviour and even 
disloyalty through lack of comprehension of these complexities and through the need 
to find a single, all-embracing, easy answer to the problems of human life. Who gives 
them the simple myth to believe in? The Nazis seduced nearly all of Germany into a 
form of ideological treason in this way! 

Treason may also be a paradoxical reaction to a deep-seated neurotic sense of guilt. 
The neurotic strategy of accumulating more guilt coupled with the consequent 
development of an inner need for punishment are often the basic causes of criminal 
action. The treacherous deed is done precisely in order to provoke punishment 


Treason may also be paid adventure as we find it in international espionage. This 
kind of life fascinates the immature mind which lives in the world of mystery stories 
and fairy tales. Bribes with women or money make such treason even more 
attractive. The enemy gratifies economic and sexual needs, and the traitor is willing 
to sell his integrity to the highest bidder. 

Overt fear and panic can also cause treason. The whole psychology of totalitarian 
interview and interrogation is based on this principle. People can be frightened and 
brainwashed into treason. 


The Development of Loyalty 

From all this we can see that what we call treason takes place more in the emotional 
than in the intellectual sphere of functioning. In the course of human growth, 
everybody passes through periods of inner conflict in which he has to turn his love 
and allegiance from one person to another-from mother to father, from parents to the 
entire family, from the family to the state, and from the state to mankind. The core of 
the problem of treason and self betrayal is found in the difficulties which arise in the 
repression of former loyalties, as each loyalty is in turn superseded by the next. 

Many people experience deep confusion in adolescence when, for the first time, they 
must leave the safe emotional protection of their homes and create new loyalties and 
new moral standards for themselves. It is in this period that the critical faculties are 
developed. In doubting the traditional truths passed on by his parents, each 
adolescent might be called a traitor; yet he is actually being true to the self he is 
shaping. During the crisis of adolescence, with its increased feelings of yearning for 
some unknown happiness, many young people want to "betray" their parental home 
and their parents' standards. At the same time, they do not want to give up the 
protection the home offers. 

Psychologically, we know, however, that temporary disloyalty is part of normal 
mental growth. In the process of individual human development, there are stages of 
progress which lead from initial submission to open rebellion and nonconformity. 
Every step toward mental maturity and independence involves the growing out of ties 
with the past. This growth can be effected in different ways, with more or less overt 
hostility and forsaking of the past, with self-betrayal and passive submission, with 
renewed submission to pay off feelings of guilt, with sworn conservativism or open 
rebellion. In this phase of adolescence he is especially vulnerable to totalitarian 

The youth may retain from the conflict of inner growth a sense of loneliness and guilt. 
If he puts it to productive use, he may become what we might call a creative 
revolutionary. The trail blazer, whose own inner forces drive him on to break with 
tradition, is such a man. Indeed, many of mankind's great moral and spiritual leaders 
have been of this type. They have been leaders precisely because they broke either 
with rigid remnants of the past or with the ossified or immoral elements of the 
present. In my own experience, I have known one such man, a German psychiatrist, 
whose idealism and moral sense made it impossible for him to go along with the 
Nazi desecration of human values and who was hanged as a traitor for his part in the 
abortive German rebellion against Hitler in 1944 


In Praise of Nonconformity 

What can be done in general to combat treason, disloyalty, and self-betrayal? In the 
first place, the child's normal defensive attitude toward authority and his need to 
break away from it should be watched with favourable vigilance at all times on the 
part of parents and educators. It is all too easy to force a child into denial of the self. 
Many times, later disloyalty is a reaction to faulty handling of the problems of 
childhood. Most traitors are made, not born. Unfortunately, this truth is often 
forgotten by educators who may, as a result of their own frustrated aggressions, 
break down by force the feeling of great loyalty toward their own age group that we 
find among youngsters. 

Is it possible to decide whether or not a person is dependable? Only when we have 
some insight into his hidden motives and drives and into the workings of his 
unconscious. For complete insight, psychoanalysis is necessary, but the way the 
unconscious expresses itself in character traits and character defences can give us 
some very important indications. A person with excessive dependency needs or a 
weak ego, a person who is easily suggestible can usually be seduced into disloyalty. 
So can the boastful, inconsistent man, full of pride and vanity. Material egotism, 
desire for power, and continual hostility also lead to denial of moral values, among 
them loyalty. 

As is often true in psychology, it is easier to say what character traits the dependable 
person must not have than to give a positive picture of what he should be like. In 
general, we can say that the person who is honest with himself and shows a 
minimum of self deceit, the man who exhibits a stable structure of character, the 
person with genuine maturity, is most true to himself, and, as a result, most loyal to 

Nevertheless, the seeds of treason lie in each of us and may be fortified by 
environmental influences. In a totalitarian world, for example, everybody is educated 
in self-denial and self-betrayal; when a person becomes a nonconformist, the label 
"traitor" will be attached to him. In a world stifled by dogma and tradition, every form 
of original thinking may be called sedition and treason. In such cases the 
environmental, social, and political factors, and not the confusing inner processes, 
determine what is treason. In this chapter, however, I have emphasized the personal 
factors in producing treason-the influence of family and group prejudices, and the 
inner instability resulting from complications in the immediate environment. There are 
so many subtle fantasies of self-betrayal and secret aggression in everyone, and 
there is so much desire to revenge secret resentments, that any government may 
make use of these unhealthy neurotic feelings to stir up the country. 


The Loyalty Compulsion 

Recently Americans have been looking more critically at the concepts of loyalty and 
subversion. Deeply conscious of the cynical and ruthless nature of the totalitarian 
attack through subversion, we have begun to let our fear of subversion from within 
paralyze our democratic freedoms. 

We have become so concerned over the spectre of a treacherous fifth column in our 
own land that we have grown both overcautious and over suspicious. 

In his well-documented study on The German Fifth Column, the Dutch historian Dr. 
Louis de Jong could prove that Hitler's dreaded network of treason and betrayal was 
for the greatest part an imaginary ogre created by the panic and fear of the people. 
We require constant reassurance that the intentions of our neighbours and fellow 
citizens are acceptable and loyal. The danger in this frantic search for security 
operates both on the political and psychological levels. Politically, in trying to erect 
invulnerable barriers against the spread of totalitarian ideas, we may find that we 
have given up those very qualities that distinguish democracy from totalitarianism: 
freedom and diversity. Psychologically, we may find ourselves the victims of 
pathological suspicions (which can be clinically termed paranoia), and this 
suspiciousness may lead us to reject utterly the most valuable qualities we can have 
as human beings: tolerance and respect for our fellow men. 

The political dangers in this situation have been pointed out time and time again by 
responsible leaders of the American community. As a psychiatrist, I should like to 
devote my attention to the psychological aspect of this problem and to the dangers to 
the free mind that are inherent in the current situation. For, as we have already seen, 
all political behaviour is essentially an extension of individual behaviour and is rooted 
in the psychology of the individuals who make up the political group. 

Much of our collective suspicion can be attributed to a gigantic multiplication of 
personal feelings of insecurity. In times of fear and calamity arises the myth of a 
treacherous aggressor, the myth the totalitarians know so well how to exploit. Our 
own inner insecurity is displaced and projected onto our neighbours and our 
environment. We begin to doubt and distrust everyone. We accuse others because 
we are afraid of ourselves. We feel weak and cover our weakness by growing 
suspicion and by being continually on the lookout for possible traitors and dissenters. 

As we have seen earlier, the whole question of loyalty is a complicated one. In our 
zeal to create guarantees of trustworthiness, we tend to oversimplify the problem, 
and thus we may overshoot the mark and become like our totalitarian antagonists, 
for whom over-simplification is a stock-in-trade. Asking people for a loyalty oath 
asking them to perform that magic ritual through which they forswear all past and 
future political sin-may have a paradoxical effect. Merely taking an oath does not 
make a man loyal, although it may later enable a judge to prosecute him for perjury. 
Our insistence on official expressions of allegiance actually discredits and devalues 
the basic personal sense of voluntary and self-chosen identification with the 
community which is the essence of loyalty; it certainly does not either create or 
insure loyalty. 


The loyalty oath too easily degenerates into an empty formula, and the man who 
takes it may forget completely the meaning it is supposed to have. To many it has 
become simply red tape, another one of those endless, troublesome forms that must 
be filled out. 

The oath compulsion can easily grow into a childish magic strategy, a form of mental 
blackmail. There are some oriental religions in which devotions are performed 
through the use of a prayer wheel. When the wheel is set in motion by a flip of the 
hand, the worshipper has done his job. He need not recite any prayers; he need not 
think any devout thoughts. The practitioners of these religions no longer have any 
awareness of the content of their prayers. They are blind subscribers to a ritual 
whose meaning they have long since forgotten. Signing a loyalty oath can become 
as empty a gesture as turning the prayer wheel. 

True loyalty is not a static thing; as we have already seen, it grows and develops 
with the personality. It has to be rediscovered and re-experienced every day, since it 
is, essentially, as a result of an inner battle of contending values that man finds his 
own particular values and loyalties. When a man is compelled to swear to his loyalty, 
even though he feels it already deeply within him, the compulsion from outside 
means that he must lay aside his personal right to weigh values and take counsel 
with his honest principles. It does not matter whether or not the oath is an expression 
of his true feelings, the element of enforcement that lies behind it has a 
psychologically weakening effect on the man who takes it. This may seem strange at 
first glance, but a simple analogy will make it clear. The man who truly loves his wife, 
for example, does not need repeatedly to swear to his love; he shows it in his 
actions. But if she insists on his swearing, her very insistence, implying as it does 
that she doubts him, may bring questions to her husband's mind-and he begins to 
grow confused as to what he really thinks. 

Both in demanding an oath and in taking it, we perpetuate the ridiculous illusion that 
enemies can be kept out through this prayer-wheel system. The fact is that 
deliberate traitors and subversives are the very ones who are not afraid to disguise 
their motivations and hide their intentions behind prescribed formulations. Nor are 
they afraid of perjury charges. They feel no hesitation in signing an oath if it is 
opportune for them to do so. For them, words and oaths are only tools which have 
no binding moral value. More important than the demand for loyalty should be the 
demand for integrity, for steadiness of character, for maturity of aims and 

Free man needs loyalty to the self first of all, and this implies the right to be himself. 
The man who feels that he is nothing, who feels that everyone, himself included, 
doubts him, who is inwardly weak, may become an easy prey to all kinds of 
totalitarian political influences. Loyalty hunts and loyalty oaths may provoke 
disloyalty to one's personal integrity and to personal freedom, since they create 
suspicion in ourselves and in others. Freedom is kept upright by the very presence of 
opposition-even at the risk of non-conformism and scattered subversion. 


Loyalty comes about as a result of mutual confidence; it cannot be created through 
compulsion. Any compulsion is, by its very nature, one-sided. Loyalty has to be 
deserved and won daily through mutual interaction, and through contact between 
leaders and citizens. Because it is based on confidence, loyalty is given 
spontaneously and of free will. True loyalty cannot be bought or demanded. 

In investigating the case of the young American soldiers in Korea who were 
brainwashed and forgot too easily where their loyalty lay, we usually find in their 
backgrounds how disloyally one of their parents had behaved toward them. In nearly 
all the so-called pro-Communist cases we find a disturbed youth. It is important that 
the community investigate its initial loyalty toward these young men. 

In a democratic state we should be prepared to adduce convincing facts in support of 
our own way of life or to develop new approaches which will reveal the weaknesses 
of any subversive system. 

Prosecution of dissenting ideas, insistence on loyalty according to some prescribed 
formula-these make it impossible for us to do this and may be the beginning of an 
unwillingness to argue and persuade. They may even lead to a new form of betrayal, 
the subtle treason of intellectual detachment, the unwillingness to take responsibility, 
the treason of doubting relativism which leads to inaction. It may degenerate into a 
dangerous form of mental laziness which can easily be turned into a life of no 
commitments or into totalitarian submission. The approaches to truth are 
multifarious, and it is only where there is a clash of opinion that these approaches 
can be discovered and the right road to truth be found. 

The danger in the loyalty compulsion is, then, that we may conceal mental apathy 
behind a rigid formula and thus lose sight of the constant need for psychological 
alertness and the real meaning of loyalty and a free way of life. The mechanical 
formula of a loyalty oath, because it checks moral alertness and a search for ethical 
clarification, may be the beginning of the thought control we all fear. True loyalty is a 
living, dynamic quality. 

In the subtle choice between loyalty to people and loyalty to principles (usually a 
much vaguer feeling) the lawmaker has to leave the individual as free as possible, 
because the latter type of loyalty is based on the first. Without personal loyalty there 
is no national loyalty! 

There is still another aspect to this problem. We must learn to distinguish between 
disloyalty in actions and disloyalty in feelings and thought. Subversion of opinion is 
never a crime. The right to dissent is the keystone of democracy. In a free state we 
must be willing to correct subversion by our better arguments. Persecuting 
dissenting ideas is a form of mental laziness. Psychologically speaking, a 
government cannot concern itself with conscious motivations (and the unconscious 
motivations which cannot be separated from them) of people because inwardly 
everybody has contrasting motivations. The quandary that such a government would 
provide itself is illustrated by the following quotation from the Oppenheimer hearing 
by the Gray board published in 1954. 


We believe that it has been demonstrated that the Government can search its own 
soul and the soul of an individual whose relationship to his government is in question 
with full protection of the rights and interests of both. We believe that loyalty and 
security can be examined within the framework of the traditional and inviolable 
principles of American justice. 

In these beautiful phrases lie hidden all the ominous beginnings of totalitarian 
thought control. The government that searches the soul of any thinking individual can 
always find a case against him, because doubt, ambivalence, and groping are traits 
common to all men. We cannot measure anybody's dependability on the basis of his 
thoughts and feelings as they appear to us. In the first place, we can never know 
what lies behind a seemingly loyal facade. In the second place, the man whose 
search for truth leads him to explore many heretical points of view can be the most 
loyal in his actions. His very exploration may well lead him to the considered 
judgment that underlies true loyalty. What counts in any man is the consistency and 
integrity of his behaviour, and his courage in taking a stand, not his conformity to 
official dogma. 

And to state that the government can search its own soul is to state absolutely 
nothing. A government is, after all, merely a collection of individuals. Under the 
pressure of the loyalty compulsion, of the growing suspicion, these individuals 
themselves may not search their souls as honestly as they would in less hectic times 
or if they were acting as private individuals rather than as official representatives of 
the government. The man caught in official security rules is the prisoner of the 
anxiety and insecurity rampant in those who want to establish the delusion of 
certainty and security-a transgression of values! 

As soon as the government starts to search the souls of its citizens, it begins to 
intrude on their rights and interests. It attacks democracy at home and weakens its 
position abroad. We cannot find the road to peace and fellowship with the rest of the 
world if we adopt dogmatic, intransigent positions and try to impose our orthodoxy on 
others. The hallmark of the totalitarian is his insistence that his is the only right way. 
If we are to maintain our position as the leader of the free world, we must always 
keep our minds open. Only in that way will we find new ways to peace. 

We have seen now that the problem of treachery has to deal with the failure to 
understand our inner mental processes. Every betrayal is in the first place a self- 
betrayal, a disloyalty toward one's own standards. When people silence their 
conscience and compromise for the sake of convenience, at that moment they begin 
to be disloyal to themselves. Passivity-assumed when our conscience should have 
forced us to act-is the most common form of self-betrayal. Inwardly a man may be 
furious because of some injustice he has witnessed, but outwardly he may do 
nothing about it-this behaviour he feels inwardly is treason to the self and is often 
what makes him so touchy toward other people's flaws. When the pattern of passivity 
is repeated, the individual continuously piles up more feelings of injustice and grows 
more and more resentful against society. Evasiveness and skilful dodging of issues 
of principle-these are among the most dangerous forms of self-betrayal in our time. 
They are dangerous because they lead unwittingly to the hypocrisy that puts power 
beyond ethical value. 


It is dangerous to let personal grudges and discontent solidify into a permanent 
resentment against the whole of society. Parents and educators can forestall such 
difficulties through psychological insight by allowing each individual the freedom to 
criticize and attack-in a civilized, non-destructive way-the community to which he 
belongs. By helping to develop in the child the sense that he is responsible for his 
own views, subversive though they may temporarily appear, parents provide him 
with the opportunity to overcome his feelings of loneliness and ambivalence and his 
wish to do violence to those who influence him. Again, loyalty is a relationship-loyalty 
to family, friends, or country has to be deserved. 

Loyalty is possible only when mutual mental aggression and hostility are allowed and 
tolerated within the limits of the law. This verbalized, sublimated, and civilized form of 
aggression presupposes fairness and good sportsmanship. It is the synthesis and 
conquest of rebellion and subversion. However paradoxical it may sound, democracy 
is founded on the mutual loyalty of politically opposed groups! You cannot doubt the 
good motives and intentions of your opponent without undermining the basis for 
cooperation and successful government. It is most undemocratic to impute disloyalty 
to the opposition party. History shows that only where there is opportunity to confront 
and integrate opposing ideas can man eradicate that form of psychological 
imbalance which gradually turns into a disloyalty to oneself and to the community. 
Fear of subversion and opposition is often fear of ideas, fear of being identified with 
certain unacceptable ideas, the fear of betrayal of the hidden part of oneself. Fear of 
treason will exist as long as loyal opposition is a crime. 

Democracy is nonconformity; it is mutual loyalty, even when we have to attack one 
another's ideas-ideas, which, because they are always human, are always 







By executive order of President Eisenhower on August 17, 1955, a new code of 
chivalry was made up governing conduct of American fighting men in combat and 
captivity.* Six precepts of conduct for combatants were enunciated: 

1. I am an American fighting man. I serve in the forces which guard my country and 
our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. 

2. I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender my 
men while they still have the means to resist. 

3. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every 
effort to escape and aid others to escape. I will accept neither parole nor special 
favours from the enemy. 

4. If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners. I will give 
no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades. If I 
am senior, I will take command. If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed 
over me, and will back them up in every way. 

5. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am bound to give only 
name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further 
questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statement disloyal 
to my country and its allies, or harmful to their cause. 

6. I will never forget that I am an American fighting man, responsible for my actions, 
and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God 
and in the United States of America. 

In the additional report about the recommendations by the Secretary of Defense, it is 
acknowledged that modern warfare has brought the challenge to the doorstep of 
every citizen, and that the final front of the cold-war line is in every citizen's mind. 
At the same time, a clearly defined code is given telling U.S. prisoners of war how to 
behave after capture. Although there was a lack of such a code previously, the report 
states that "American troops have demonstrated through all wars that they do not 
surrender easily, they have never surrendered in large bodies, and they have in 
general performed admirably in their country's cause as prisoners of war." 

After describing physical attacks on prisoners-death marches, hunger, squalor, cold, 
torture, disease, and total degradation-the report gives extended attention to all the 
forms of mental coercion intended to extract false confessions or military information 
from the soldiers, and to infect them with totalitarian thinking. First, the enemy aimed 
at the breakdown of the leaders, at confusion of the officers, who so easily influence 
their soldiers. 


Then gradually everybody had to undergo the ordeal by indoctrination. The enemy 
propaganda barrage started full speed. This suggestive attack reached minds not 
used to highly specialized discussion, minds not informed and rather confused about 
Communism and its tactics. Inner discrepancies in the reasoning of the man could 
easily be attacked and reduce him to docile submission. 

The report pleads for more extended, skilful training of the soldier (and the citizen) in 
our basic beliefs and responsibilities, a mental mobilization for the future clash of 
"ideas" and "wills." 

There was a considerable conflict of opinion in the advisory committee to the 
Secretary of Defense that drafted the code between the hard Spartan view and the 
more lenient let-them-talk view. The first group maintained that every soldier has to 
resist to the end; the latter believed that in the end anybody could be brought into 

Nevertheless, all soldiers have to be trained especially to resist and not to be made 
disloyal to their country, their services, and their comrades. That was the principal 
reason why this final code of high standards was made up, even though it is 
recognized that coercion is possible beyond the ability to resist. Yet the psychologist 
here adds the additional question, Who will judge what is beyond the ability to resist? 
The report ends by underlining the fact that the total war for the minds of men is 
continually going on. The home front is just an extension of the fighting front! 

An important point made by the code is that it asks that attention be given to a far 
more extensive mental battle front. By making it known that the coercive methods of 
the Communists are well understood by us, the impact and meaning of their cold-war 
strategy are partly taken away. Finally nobody in the outside world believes them, 
even though their totalitarian methods may be of use to them for internal propaganda 
in their own countries. However, we cannot fight indoctrination with mere counter 

Letting soldiers sign a declaration that they will never yield to brainwashing has the 
advantage of at least informing them of what to expect. Yet this knowledge does not 
protect them against the subtle conditioning by an inquisitor who knows how to 
circumvent mental obstacles. Time and subtle suggestive penetration can break 
men's resistance. 

Psychologically, a loyalty oath compulsion and a signed declaration do not mean 
anything in themselves. Only a profound education in mental freedom and 
democratic awareness can help as a counter toxic. The authorities who ask for 
signed declarations of loyalty are not enough aware of how much propaganda and 
persuasive brainwashing and other forms of mental seduction are going on right here 
in our own society; they are substituting the social and national responsibility for an 
individual one. It is the moral and political atmosphere behind the man in the 
hinterland that supplies his mental stamina. The nation is responsible for the mental 
backbone it trains and transfers to its soldiers in a cold war! 


Several P.O.W: s felt misled by their own government. They had been badly 
informed about the enemy, in too simple terms of black and white. By showing his 
good side, the captor could easily arouse suspicion about the honesty of the 
prisoner's leaders. 

From a psychiatric standpoint, it needs to be said again that everybody can be 
brought to a breaking point regardless of how well-informed and counter 
indoctrinated he may be. When the enemy wants to persist in his demoralizing 
methods, he has the means. Alas, the report did not emphasize enough the difficult 
dialectic dilemma into which many a simple soldier is thrown. For years he has been 
trained in a society or military group where obedience to the law and conformity to 
community habits were imprinted on him. Suddenly he has to select and test his own 
individuality and critical defences. A cold war asks for a high level of political 
awareness. This brings the problem back again to the problem of individual mental 
vulnerability of persons and to the general problem of morale. Mental courage 
cannot be cultivated by physical training only. It requires training in mental stamina, 
in understanding of basic beliefs, and even in nonconformistic thinking. We have to 
believe deeply in the cause for which we are fighting in order to resist the standpoint 
of the enemy. It is the strength of conviction that gives moral power! 


Indoctrination Against Indoctrination? 

An educational concept exists to the effect that conditioning to physical torture will 
help soldiers to be more immune to brainwashing. In one of the air force bases, 
airmen had to go through a "school of torture," euphemistically called the School of 
Survival, in which some of the barbarous and cruel Communist methods of handling 
prisoners were initiated in order to harden the men against future brutality.** Time, 
September 19, 1955. The trainees could stand the ghoulish exercises rather well. 
However, such a training can condition men to take over, unwittingly, the methods of 
totalitarianism. It may give a semi-official green light to enemy tactics by implying 
that we can do the same. 

Moreover, such methods may stimulate hidden sadistic tendencies in both trainer 
and trainee. Under the disguise of an earnest training need, American youth may be 
educated in the same sadistic view as their enemies. 

The important psychological implication of every form of harsh compulsive training 
and indoctrination is that it fits into the totalitarian pattern. Moreover, the totalitarian 
inquisitors don't need to use physical torture in order to uncover the secrets of man's 
mind, although they may use these methods for their private pleasure. On the 
contrary, the enemy counted just as much on friendly gestures and special privileges 
to seduce the hungry, weakened P.O.W.s into confession. What the inquisitors 
especially require in order to succeed is that the enemy have a weak personality, 
that he be a dumbbell with a soldier's need to conform, that he be ridden with anxiety 
and lacking in patience. The brainwashing inquisitor doesn't need torture. Physical 
torture will often strengthen resistance against the inquisitor, while isolation alone 
can accomplish his objectives. The school that teaches only torture and evasion 
techniques can even arouse latent anxieties and thus, paradoxically, make it easier 
for the soldier-weakened by his fantastic anticipations-to surrender to brainwashing. 
The hero at school can become a weakling as soon as he is faced with the real 

It is not so important what the trainee accomplishes during his physical training but 
what he stands for mentally and spiritually. Does he have a mental backbone? Only 
this will stand him in good stead during the challenge of prisonership. 

The Psychiatric Report About Brainwashing and Menticide In every report on 
brainwashing of prisoners of war, several factors that may lead to the accusation of 
"collaboration with the enemy" have to be taken into account to determine the 
psychological responsibility of the accused. 

Did he surrender mentally under a kind of hypnosis? Can he be made responsible at 
all; was there a conscious and voluntary collaboration that turned the man into a 
traitor? Was there cowardice or only spiritual weakness? 

Because these questions are so new in our history and often so subtle in relation to 
the circumstances, it is well to enumerate the fields of interest to be analyzed: 


1 . The Accusation. The psychologist has to study the incriminating facts. We often 
can see, for instance, in the phrasing of the signed confessions, evidence that the 
signature was enforced. Some cliche phrases of the enemy can be looked at as 
gradually wangled out of the head of the victim. For one of the courts I was able to 
make an analysis of a written confession that was composed of such heterogeneous 
elements that the process of mental wrestling and gradual giving in of the prisoner 
could easily be discerned in the papers. 

2. Rumour and mass psychology. Not all the accusations against a prisoner of war 
made by fellow prisoners-even when the majority constantly repeat them-may be 
taken at face value. Under the impact of terror and fear, rumours about special 
persons are easily communicated. There are personalities who, on the basis of their 
special character structure, easily become the focal point of rumours. The withdrawn 
intellectual, for instance, is often accused of consorting with the enemy. When he 
speaks the enemy's language and can communicate with them, accusations against 
him can become like a huge mass hallucination. 

The investigator has to make a survey of group relations in the P.O.W. camp. The 
brainwashing enemy tries first to attack the leaders, in order to attack the morale of 
the remainder of the P.O.W.' s; then he tries to select specially vulnerable 
personalities for his strategy of mental pressure and ideological conversion. 

3. The personality structure of the accused. Certain persons, on the basis of their 
weak ego or their underlying neurotic anxieties, are predestined to give in earlier to 
mental pressures. To obtain a fair estimate of the individual, intelligence tests and 
the Rorschach test have to be given, the family background and the religious and 
ideological foundations of the person have to be studied. 

4. Was the brainwashee well trained to stand the treatment? What kind of 
information had been given to the prisoner of war during his training? Did he know 
enough about the ideological war and the word barrage he might be exposed to? 
Was he only prepared for discipline and submission, or also for freedom and 
nonconforming discussions? Was he only physically trained or also mentally? 

5. The facts of torture. How long did it take before the prisoner gave in? Did he get 
drugs? How much isolation? How many hours of interrogation? Were there 
symptoms of pain and physical illness? Can these facts be verified? 

This is only a short survey of viewpoints to be taken into account. They serve to 
show that with the phenomenon of systematic brainwashing and thought control 
something is brought before the court that is judicially new. The traditional attitudes 
toward personal competence, responsibility, and accountability cannot be applied. 
The state (the totalitarian system of the enemy) has, in the case of successful 
brainwashing, taken over, even taken possession of, all psychological responsibility 
for the obedient acts of persons. Our criminal courts and military courts will have to 
find new rules of judging those who fell into the hands of such a criminalizing system. 



The Role of Education 

The child's formative years are spent under the guidance of first parents and then 
teachers; jointly they influence his future behaviour. The educational system can 
either reinforce or correct parental errors and attitudes, either strengthen the child's 
desire to grow toward freedom and maturity or stifle his need to develop and twist it 
into the need to resign himself to permanent childishness and dependence. 

Since the Renaissance, the ideal of universal scholastic training has made steady 
gains. But today we unwittingly tend to mould minds into a prefabricated pattern and 
to give our students the illusion that they know or have to know all the answers. The 
fallacy of such half-education is that the so-called alphabetics in contrast to those 
who cannot read-may become better followers and worse thinkers. 

The totalitarians, for example, are not against schools; on the contrary, for the more 
you overburden the mind with facts, the more passive it may become. Intellectual 
erudition and book-learning alone do not make strong personalities, and in our 
passion for factual education and the quiz type of examination there lies hidden a 
form of mental pressure. The awe with which we regard the accumulation of school 
facts may inhibit the mind so that it cannot think for itself. We must become more 
aware of the involuntary pressures an educational system can impose on us, and 
their possibly dangerous effects on the future of our democratic society. The actual 
strategy of keeping people as permanent students under prolonged supervision is a 
help to totalitarian indoctrination. For instance, somewhere along the line in some 
administrative minds, there sprang up the idea that repeated, comparative 
examinations would increase the quality of the corps of administrators. Instead, 
infantile anxieties developed related to the fear of this infantile tool of measurement 
and evaluation: the examination. There is now hardly any administrator who dares to 
look at reality as the best test of human capacity and human endurance. 

The form of education which sets a premium on dependency, which over-controls 
the child, which makes a moral appeal through punishment and provoking a sense of 
guilt, which overrates mechanical skills and automatic learning, this form of 
education kneads the brain into a pattern of conformity which can easily be turned 
into totalitarian channels. This is even more the case in regard to the disciplinary 
training of soldiers. Such rigid education glorifies good behaviour far too much; 
imitation and conformity are approved at the expense of spontaneous creativity, 
thinking for oneself, and the free expression and discussion of dissenting ideas. Our 
examination mania forces students into mental pathways of automatic thinking. Our 
intellectual and so-called objective education overrates rationalism and technical 
know-how under the delusion that this will keep emotional errors under control. 


What it does instead, of course, is to train children into automatic patterns of thinking 
and acting, which are closer to the pattern of conditioned reflexes, of which 
Pavlovian students are so fond, than they are to the free, exploratory, creative 
pattern toward which democratic education should be oriented. 

Totalitarianism is well aware that youth has a sensitive period during which 
Pavlovian conditioning may be established without difficulty. Early teachings form 
nearly indestructible patterns in the child's mind and eventually replace innate 
instinctual precision. This early Pavlovian automatization of life may itself develop 
almost the force of an innate instinct. Indeed this is precisely what happens in 
Totalitaria. Dictators especially organize youth and press them to join disciplinary 
youth movements. 

The paradox of universal literacy is that it may create a race of men and women who 
have become (just because of this new intellectual approach to life) much more 
receptive to the indoctrination of their teachers or leaders. Do we need conditioned 
adepts or freethinking students? Beyond this, our technical means of communication 
have caught up with our literacy. The eye that can read is immediately caught by 
advertising and propaganda. This is the tremendous dilemma of our epoch. 

In many of our primary schools students are taught in an atmosphere of compulsive 
regimentation and are imprinted with a sense of dependency and awe of authority 
which lasts throughout their lives. They never really learn to think for themselves. 
The scholastic fact-factories, the schools, keep many pupils too busy to think; they 
may instead educate them into progressive immaturity. As long as people can quote 
one another and the available "expert" opinion, they are considered well-informed 
and intellectual. Many schools emphasize what we could call a quotation mania, 
making; the ability to quote the epitome of all wisdom. Yet anyone with an apparently 
unanswerable logic, anyone who can back up his position with authoritative 
statements and quotations, can have a strong impact on such a mind, for it can 
readily be caught and conditioned by emotionally attractive pseudo-intellectual 
currents. As a matter of fact, in the process of brainwashing the inquisitor makes, 
use of the feeling of confusion his victim gets when he is shown that his facts don't fit 
and that there are flaws in his concepts. The man who doesn't know the tricks of 
argument will break down sooner. 

I like to distinguish among the intellectuals quantellectuals and. quintellectuals. The 
former aim for quantity of knowledge and easily yield to any kind of new conditioning. 
To the quintellectuals,, on the other hand, intellect is a quality of personal integrity. 
Facts, are not consumed passively but are weighed and verified. This kind of intellect 
has a potentiality independent of school education and often school can spoil it. 

One of the most amazing cases I ever treated was a typical quantellectual, a doctor 
of psychology who had just completed his university education with a dissertation on 
a psycho-technical subject. He came to me because he was a complete failure in all 
his relationships with girls. He wanted this "impotence" to be treated medically, and 
at first he rejected any kind of psychotherapy because he "knew all that stuff." In the 
course of our conversation it became apparent that his entire scholastic education 
had bypassed him. 


He had gotten As at school, but the very essence of what he had studied had eluded 
him. He had grasped literally nothing about psychology. He had memorized 
everything and had understood nothing. He could quote from every page of the book 
but explain none. Every time he had to work out a test or give practical advice, he 
went into a panic. It took years of treatment to break through his rigid, compulsive 
habits, and to bring him to a point where he was able to think and feel as a human 
being rather than as a machine. At the end of his treatment he started to learn all 
over again, reading with greed and fervour what had before been empty facts. 

But he was not the only walking fact-collection I have met. Another one of my 
patients was a young man who was obsessed with the desire to accumulate all the 
learned degrees his university could deliver. At the time I met him he was a member 
of a Nazi organization. (Here is an example of the fact that many a pedant has an 
affinity with an authoritarian political system.) Even in this group he provoked hostility 
because of his search for facts and more facts, facts only for the sake of facts. His 
compulsions became too much for even his totalitarian fellows. He had delusions of 
grandeur and had absolutely no emotional relationships at all; both signs that a 
psychotic process was going on. But his intellectual capacity was intact. The son of a 
scholar, he had lived in constant competition with his father; early in youth he started 
to read the encyclopaedia, and later, in grade school and high school, he was 
cheered because of his phenomenal "knowledge." Indeed, he did know the facts, but 
he knew nothing else. He knew neither how to get along with himself nor with 
anyone else. 

These two cases serve to demonstrate how a mechanized educational system, 
failing to detect even an urgent need for emotional relationships and a sense of 
belonging, and placing its emphasis on learning instead of living, can produce adults 
who are totally unequipped to meet the problems of life, who are themselves only 
half alive and completely incapable of meeting the challenges of reality. Such men 
and women do not make good democratic citizens. 

One of the most essential tasks of education for mental freedom is to prepare the 
child for mature adulthood by teaching him to see the essentials and by teaching him 
to think for himself. There are several fields of interest through which the capacity to 
think for oneself may be developed-for instance, the field of communication and the 
science of abstraction. A child's awareness of his own language, of the words he 
himself uses, as an expressive tool rather than as a set of grammatical rules can 
lead him to inquisitiveness about other languages and other ways of thinking, and 
thus may lead him to the ability to think abstractly and to understand relationships. 
The child's period of greatest sensitivity to foreign languages is when he is about ten- 
much younger than the age at which we normally teach foreign languages. At this 
age, too, the child begins to have an active personal interest in words and self 
expression. This interest can be used to make language an exciting adventurous 
exploration instead of a cut-and-dried process of memorization. 

Our schools must stimulate inventiveness and self-activity too, through such subjects 
as carpentry and designing. Creative play with concrete objects also develops the 
child's capacity to abstract and to generalize, making it easier for him to absorb the 
abstractions which underlie all mathematics. 


If, instead of throwing the child into the sea of abstractions he finds in the daily 
arithmetic drill, we brought him to an understanding of the process of abstraction by 
carefully graded steps, he would absorb and assimilate what he learned, not merely 
parrot what he was told. We tend, for instance, to teach mathematical abstractions at 
too early an age, just as we wait too long to teach language and verbal expression. 
History is a subject which is not learned by memorizing facts and dates but through 
mutual discussion. It has to start with the concept of personal lifetimes and personal 
history. It is better to give a child a printed report of the history of yesterday and ask 
for his comments and opinions on it, or better to promote individual thought by letting 
him search for background information in a library or museum, than to ask him to 
memorize facts. In this way the learning of history can become an adventure. 

We can also revise the system that risks so easily rearing mediocre people who fit 
into a pattern of mediocrity. Different children must be trained and educated 
differently. Each one has his own internal timetable; each one will have his own life 
adjustments. Why should we compulsively do to our children what we would never 
do to the flowers in our gardens? Every plant is allowed to attain its own natural size. 
Our current scholastic practice stimulates ambition in a few children, but stifles it in 
others. Instead of promoting cheating by our rigid examination rules, why do we not 
allow children to help one another in the solution of common problems? Very often 
children can teach each other what the teacher cannot. 

Think for a moment of the child especially sensitive to the boredom of some of our 
contemporary schools. He becomes either a conformist-full of good marks and no 
original thoughts-or a rebel-ripe for the child-guidance clinic of today and possibly for 
the totalitarian state of tomorrow. 


Discipline and Morale 

While good morale implies inner strength and self-discipline, it may not necessarily 
imply a set group discipline in a political or military sense. Good personal morale and 
backbone were two of the needed qualifications for taking part successfully in the 
underground during the last war. The partisans, working secretly-now here, now 
there-relied, in their lonely combat, on their individual initiative and morale as much 
as, if not more than, on distant leadership and discipline. This is just the opposite of 
a kind of stand-by morale impelled by blind fear and maintained from a distance, the 
kind which is obtained in jails or concentration camps, or in a tribe with extreme 
emphasis on common participation. In the first groups, there was morale without 
discipline; in the second, discipline without morale. In the same way, there are some 
officers who can only develop discipline without morale. 

Nevertheless, there is usually an inner relation between discipline and morale. Only 
when a certain amount of initial disciplinary training is given to youngsters or soldiers 
are they well conditioned for that personal inner strength which is based on self- 
confidence and trust in the group as a whole, together with confidence in the 
authorities. Emergency discipline is resorted to during times of stress when there is 
usually lack of time, with the result that there is not a sufficient period for self-control 
and adjustment to the group. Only a self-chosen discipline which develops gradually 
can lay the basis for inner freedom and morale. This rule has been forgotten by 
many educators. Only this basis of initial, conditioned patterns gives us the 
confidence to stand on our own. 

We all start by interjecting and taking over our morale from others-our parents and 
educators. The basis of our personal morale is what we internalized from them. The 
subtle mutual relation between discipline and freedom starts in the cradle under the 
care of loving and interested and consistent parents. The parents are the first to build 
morale. The conflict between discipline and morale in a group usually arises when 
the members are held together by compulsion or necessity. Here the inner 
coherence will be completely different from that of a situation in which there is a 
spontaneous loyalty to the group. The aim of all discipline is to develop a better 
adjustment to the group. In turn, success in identifying with the group develops a 
stronger ego. From this point on, freedom begins. 

A further understanding of these morale-building principles is important for an 
evaluation of the inner strength or vulnerability of the various cultural groups. We 
may expect, according to our experiences in psychotherapy, that where too much 
discipline, or even slavery, prevails, the inner cohesion of the group will be very 
different from that of a group respecting and holding the individual in high esteem. 
Yet we have found men even in the armies of totalitarian systems who exemplify 
high morale. I call to mind those Japanese soldiers who-without any tie with the 
mother country-stuck to their lonely posts for years after the war, as though the 
emperor and his generals were still looking at them. This tells us something about 
the consistent love, security, and dedication they received in the first six years of life. 


Discipline and Brainwashing 

When we want to train a soldier to resist brainwashing, we have to give him 
antidotes against mass suggestion. We have to teach him to make up his own 
answers and to criticize his teachers. We must train him in negative suggestibility 
and emphasize the courage to reject emotionally pleasant reasoning when it does 
not seem truthful. Above all, we have to repeat such lessons many times to make a 
self-confident individual out of a recruit. Against the daily barrage of suggestions, we 
have to provoke individual criticism. All this has to be done in addition to making the 
soldier familiar with the concept and implications of brainwashing. 

In so doing, he will learn, unconsciously, to judge what propaganda is or what it is 
not-as we all partially do when listening to advertising over the radio. Psychological 
experience tells us that part of propagandistic suggestions can leak through even 
alert mental defences and penetrate our opinions. Anti-brainwashing training has to 
be done thoroughly and repeatedly. It may appear to be in conflict with rigid 
discipline; when the teacher and officer knows enough about the subject, however, 
the student's self-respect is enhanced through identification with the leading officer. 
True, we see here a change of disciplinary relations, but it offers the real test of 
discipline in a free, democratic community. A man who has been taught self-esteem 
and knowledge will stand to the end when the hour of challenge comes. 

The change of the war of weapons into a mental cold war requires a change of 
discipline. The soldier has to know not only his rifle, but even more the sense of his 
mission and the nonsense of the enemy. 

The Quality of the Group and the Influence of the Leader In every group situation, 
morale refers to the degree of cohesive strength of the members and to the amount 
of loyalty toward the group and its goals. Morale may, or may not, imply an 
understanding of the goals. In Western culture with its subtle pros and cons, a much 
deeper need for awareness, understanding, and consideration of goals is implied 
than is called for in a totalitarian state. 

In the totalitarian state with its veneration for the strong leader; the threatening loss 
of coherence-when the dictator or leading group fails-would have a much more 
disintegrating effect than such failure in a democratic society, whose members 
usually have reached a higher degree of self-determination and governmental skill. A 
democracy always finds new leaders ready to take responsibility. 

Morale includes the question of how much people can endure physically and 
mentally, and for how long. Under different kinds of regimentation the limit of 
endurance will be different. Stand-by morale, based on fear as in prisons, may 
disintegrate at the least sign of weakness in leader or guard, or when the individuals 
have not as yet been sufficiently disciplined. 

The kamikazes, the pilots educated for suicide, were thoroughly indoctrinated with 
the self-offering ideology; and their morale, as shown in the war with Japan, might be 
said to have been high in an Oriental sense. 


Here discipline and allegiance had become so automatic that life was of no 
importance either to the individual or to the group. The only thought was to keep 
going and beat the enemy. This kind of morale is often dependent on obtaining a 
frenzied desperation-a kind of collective suicidal rage-in pursuit of the national goal. 
We are becoming more and more aware of how important leadership is in boosting 
morale. The leader is the embodiment of the valued human relationships for which 
we are willing to offer our energy and even, when needed, our lives. Through 
identification with him we borrow his fortitude. It is not always the official leader who 
has charge of lifting the morale. Sometimes a sergeant or a soldier may take over 
this function. 

The official leader himself is in a more difficult position. He must be many things that 
may seem to contradict one another. He must represent paternal authority as well as 
our ego, our conscience, and our ideals. He must relieve us of our sense of guilt and 
anxiety, and he must be able to absorb our needs for strength, affection, and 
dedication-our transference needs, as expressed in psychological terms. He must be 
able to create group action and motivation and at the same time increase the 
individual's self-esteem. His doubts may become our doubts; his loss of confidence 
makes us lose our self-confidence. 

At times we may want him to be a tyrant so that we can be relieved of our personal 
resentments and responsibilities. Sometimes we want to compete with him as we 
competed with our fathers. At other times we want affection from him. The leader 
must be both a scapegoat and a giant. Our own inner strength will grow, depending 
on the leader's inspiring and guiding personality. While we may never love him 
completely, we will use him to grow or decline in our morale. 

Yet the individual not only borrows strength from the group and its leader, he also 
brings his own spirit to it. Even when he is used as a scapegoat to release group 
hostility, the individual-when he takes it with humour and philosophy-may unwittingly 
boost the morale of the group. He communicates, as it were, his personal tolerance 
to others. The black sheep in a platoon is often as much accepted as the beloved 
sports hero. 

In the same way, the group communicates all kinds of feelings to the individual; the 
process of morale contagion is continually going on. Its quality depends on mutual 
acceptance, friendships, the amount of contagious fear in the group, the quality of 
interpersonal processes, resistance-provoking qualities in the few, and so on. 

Let us not forget that the best morale booster for ourselves is to help to lift the 
morale of others. When inter-human contact is not allowed, morale is soon lacking. 
For instance, we heard from several escaped people from behind the iron curtain 
that their most prominent complaint in the totalitarian system was the feeling of 
mental isolation. The individual feels alone and continually on the alert. There is only 
mutual suspicion. The new gospel for those escapees was the ready humane 
acceptance and contact they experienced in the democratic group, because here 
was spontaneous enthusiasm and mutual acceptance-even when there was 


Enumeration of Some Factors Influencing Group Morale The following factors 
resulting mostly from military experience may endanger morale: 

1 . Wrong anticipation of danger; myths and rumours about the enemy 

2. Severe stress; battle fatigue 

3. Poor physical and mental health (flu!) 

4. Lack of food, lack of sleep; cold and dirt 

5. Bad leadership 

6. Poor training; lack of skill; overtraining 

7. Poor communication and poor information 

8. Destruction of basic values, lack of faith 

9. Confusion of activities, strife in politics, wrong selection of government 

10. Authoritarian and undemocratic behaviour; humiliation 

1 1 . Tyranny; too rigid discipline, also lack of discipline 

12. Homesickness and feelings of estrangement 

13. Internal hostilities, prejudices, persecution of minorities 

14. Thought control and menticide; no right to be an individual, no justice, no right to 

15. No function in the social setting, no duties. 16. Alcohol and sedatives 

The following factors may boost morale: 

1 . Sound democratic leadership 

2. Well-planned organization with the freedom of improvisation; minimum of red tape 

3. Democratic self-discipline. Do we have faith in our own institutions? 

4. Information and unhampered communication 

5. Freedom of religion; moral integrity 

6. Mutual loyalty and mature responsibility; team spirit 

7. Mental alertness; the important psychology of awareness of the problems of our 
own epoch 

8. A sense of belonging and being accepted, g. A sense of justice, freedom, and 

10. Confidence in experts ready to give first aid (mental hygiene experts, clergy, Red 
Cross, Civil Defense, medical first aid) 


The Breaking Point and Our Capacity for Frustration 

What is the straw that breaks the camel's back? This is a key question in the 
problem of personal morale. During the Second World War, I treated a fighter pilot 
who was unafraid of his dangerous work but who felt unhappy about his personal 
relationships. Suddenly during an air-raid alert in London, where he was on furlough, 
he was struck by utter panic. In normal life he had been a rather shy and withdrawn 
young man. Unexpectedly he found himself in a shelter with a frightened group about 
him, and he became contaminated by the fear of other people. The strange situation 
found him unprepared and so he broke down. I mention this point to show again how 
contagious the atmosphere in a P.O.W. camp can be. 

No one can really tell how he will behave in times of great danger until it comes to 
actually facing the test. The true test of reality is solved in different ways. Many 
accept the challenge. Some over-defensive, compulsive individuals even welcome 
the danger. Still others-who were already unstable-misuse the new situation as an 
excuse to break down and let their emotions go. Segal calls the last group frustrated 
big-dealers, exclusives, dupes, scared kids, praise-starved egotists-all having egos 
that could easily be boosted by a flattering inquisitor. 

In psychology we are aware of the fact that there are two sets of determinants which 
bring on mental breakdown: one set consisting of long-term considerations which 
cause a gradual breakdown of inner defences, the other consisting of short-term 
factors, the triggers or provoking factors causing a sudden collapse of the mental 
and physical integration. To the first set of factors may belong chronic disease or the 
many chronic irritations of life. The second operates by means of a sudden symbolic 
impact on hidden sensitivities. A mouse appearing in a girls' class doesn't arouse 
panic because of its objective danger. Modern psychopathology has studied the 
manifold sensitizing occurrences, experienced in early life, which make people 
subject to unknown trigger reactions. 

Yet, trauma and frustration are emphasized too much as weakeners of the 
personality during its development. As a matter of fact, the opposite is true. 
Challenge and resistance to unfavourable influences make the personality. In order 
to develop greater inner strength and better ego defences, the individual has to 
expose and traumatize himself. What else is "fair" sport and "fair" competition but 
repeated training in morale? Physical training doesn't have to be "soft." The self- 
traumatization by trial and error, to which we unconsciously expose ourselves in 
encounters during sports, is part of a spontaneous effort toward self-discipline. When 
the person cannot find strength within himself, he must borrow it from his neighbour 
and look for strength by proxy. Too great emphasis on dependence or leadership 
increases this proxy mechanism. Leadership is not exclusively the secret of morale. 
Identification with the leader may sometimes fortify the person's inner strength, but it 
may also frustrate his capacity to grapple with his own problems. A frustrating leader 
may decrease our capacity to tolerate frustration. 


Living under too soft circumstances is probably a weakening factor; a recent 
publication (Richter) on experiences with men under combat stress, and later with 
rats in the laboratory, have proven that luxury in general influences negatively man's 
capacity to endure. 

Somewhere along the line, good morale means no longer being afraid to die; it 
means solving that mythological anxiety about death being something dark and 
obscure; and it means the willingness to accept fate. Accepting fate and duty and 
responsibility is living in a different way: it is living with the moral courage to stand for 
moral principles that you have gathered in your life and without which life is not worth 

The anticipation of bad occurrences can have a paralyzing effect. If one expects 
people to break down, they may either give in more easily to these false prophets, 
or, out of hostility, feel boosted in their morale. The press, the radio, television have 
to be aware of their subtle responsibility as morale-influencing mediums. 

It is important to realize that mental prophets expect more panic in others when they 
themselves feel jittery and insecure. In the last war, there were many sensational 
forecasts of panic that, happily enough, did not materialize, such as Dunkerque. Man 
is often mentally much stronger than we expect him to be. Of all the animals, he can 
suffer most and take danger best-provided he does not weaken himself by his belief 
in supernatural terror stories nor become unnerved in a cold war. 



What then can give a man strength to resist a menticidal assault? What made it 
possible for so many thousands to survive mentally and physically the horrors of the 
Nazi concentration camps and the Communist P.O.W. camps? 

The answer is essentially simple. Men yield primarily because at some point they are 
overwhelmed by their unconscious conflicts. These conflicts, kept under control in 
normal circumstances, come to the surface under the strain of menticidal pressure. 
The stronger the inner conflicts and the greater the pressure, the greater the 
tendency to yield. Men withstand pressure when these conflicts cannot be so easily 
aroused or have been inwardly overcome. 

This simple answer itself contains a clinical paradox. One of the characteristics of 
severe neurosis, and of some cases of pathological character structure, is that 
unconscious conflicts are so severe that they are either repressed so deeply that the 
sufferer is not even vaguely aware of their existence or they are transformed into a 
set of overt attitudes which are more acceptable to the individual, and therefore 
easier to handle. If the severe neurotic permitted himself to feel his real conflicts, 
they would dominate his life completely; consequently he exerts tremendous force to 
hold down this explosive material. The man who is always rebellious, never growing 
from healthy rebellion into healthy maturity, may have transformed some basic and 
profound conflict in his own personality into a chronic resistance against any kind of 
social demand. Psychiatric examination of returned P.O.W.s from Korea showed that 
many of the men who resisted enemy propaganda most strongly were those with a 
history of lifelong rebellion against all authority -from parents through teachers to 
army superiors. They were troublemakers wherever they were, among their friends 
as well as among their enemies (Segal.) 

This negative side of the coin is only part of the picture. A man with deep self- 
knowledge, aware of his own inner conflicts and aware, too, of what the enemy is 
trying to do to him is prepared to meet and resist the attack. I interrogated many 
people who went through the tortures of Nazi prison and concentration camps. Some 
were ordinary folk with no political affiliations, some were members of the resistance, 
a few were psychologists and psychoanalysts. Those who understood themselves, 
who were willing to accept danger and challenge, and who realized, even faintly, 
how bestial man can be, were able to stand the harrowing concentration -camp 
experience. They were not defeated by their own innocent perplexity and lack of 
insight into themselves and others, but were protected by their knowledge and 
inquisitive alertness. 

There are other factors which play an important role too. My investigations have 
made it abundantly clear to me that those who can resist, who can maintain their 
strength under marginal circumstances, never feel that they are alone. 


As long as they can think of their loved ones at home, as long as they can look 
forward to seeing them again, as long as they know their families are faithfully 
waiting for them, they can maintain their strength and keep the unconscious drive to 
give in from taking over their lives. The love and affection we get and gather in our 
hearts is the greatest stimulus to endurance. Not only does it provide a goal toward 
which we can direct our lives, it also gives us an inner assurance and a sense of 
worth that make it possible for us to keep in check the self-destroying conflicts. 

This knowledge of loving and being loved is not limited to love of family or friends. 
People in whom a religious faith or a political conviction is a deeply rooted, living 
thing have this same sense of belonging, of being needed, of being loved. Their 
allegiance is to a whole group or to a set of ideals rather than to individuals. To such 
people, beliefs are real and concrete, as real and concrete as people or objects. 
They provide a bulwark against loneliness, terror, fantasies conjured up by the 
unconscious, and the unleashing of deep-seated conflicts, a bulwark that is as strong 
as the memory of love. Yet, such mentally strong people form a minority in our 
conflict ridden society. 

Experience has shown that robust athletes cannot withstand the concentration-camp 
or the P.O.W. camp experiences any better than can their physically weaker 
brothers. Nor is intellect alone any real help in fending off the daily assaults on the 
will. On the contrary, it can provide useful rationalization for surrender. Mental 
backbone and moral courage go deeper than the intellect. Fortitude is not a physical 
or intellectual quality; it is something we get from the cradle, from the consistency of 
our parents' behaviour, and from their beliefs and faith. It has become increasingly 
rare in a world of changing values and little faith. 


The Myth of Courage 

There is something in the glorious myth of strength and courage that confuses all of 
us. Physical strength is too frequently confused with spiritual strength. Bravery and 
heroism are, indeed, needed qualities in battle. Yet analysis of soldiers in combat 
shows that each one of them has to conduct a constant battle against his own fears. 
The brave are the ones who can check their fears, who can cope with the paralyzing 
fantasies that fear creates, and who can control the desire to regress into childish 
escapism. A man cannot be forced to become a hero, and it is ridiculous to punish 
him if he is not. It is as pointless as punishing him for bleeding or fainting. 

The hero, the man who offers himself up to death for the sake of others, is found 
more in mythology than in reality. Psychology and anthropology have shown that the 
hero myth is related to eternal dream images. The hero symbolizes the rebellious 
new generation, the strong son becoming stronger than the father. He symbolizes, 
too, our wish to be mature and to take responsibility into our own hands. 

We need the myth for the inspiration it offers us. We commemorate with post humour 
glorification the heroic feats of the few who have, throughout history, offered 
themselves up as sacrifices to their comrades or to society. Yet what do we know of 
their real motives? 

During the Second World War, I gave psychiatric treatment to many soldiers. As I 
spoke and worked with them, I became increasingly conscious of how dangerous it 
is to stick the simple label "hero" or "coward" on any man. One of my patients, for 
example, was a boy who had received a high military decoration because he had 
stuck to a lonely place with his machine gun, firing automatically until the enemy was 
forced to withdraw. In the course of his treatment, the boy confessed that his 
apparent heroism was really the result of a paralyzing fear, which had made it 
impossible for him to follow his commander's order to retreat. 

No one can really tell how he will behave in times of danger. Each person will solve 
the frightening test that reality confronts him with in his own way. Several will accept 
the challenge and stand up to it. Some over-defensive, compulsive individuals may 
even welcome this burden as a test of their strength. Still others whose instability has 
deep roots in the past-will unconsciously take advantage of a perilous situation to 
break down completely and let their tears and emotions go. 

Freud has directed our attention to the peculiar interplay between external and 
internal dangers, between frightening reality and equally frightening fantasy. 
Objective, recognizable dangers often stimulate the mind to alertness and encourage 
it to set up its inner defences. But there are subjective panic-creators too-frustration, 
feeling of guilt, infantile horror fantasies-and these can often be so terrorizing in their 
effects that all our cultural defences collapse. Many men who face the test of reality 
with stalwart courage can be brought to collapse by apparent trivia which somehow 
touch them in a vulnerable spot. 


Another of my wartime patients mentioned previously showed such a pattern. The 
young fighter pilot, who had flown forty combat missions without any sign of fear or 
panic, suddenly broke down completely in an air-raid shelter in London. In the course 
of treatment, it became apparent that this young man was bitterly unhappy about his 
personal relationships. He did not get along with his commanding officer; he had had 
a serious quarrel with his girl friend the night before his breakdown. A shy and 
withdrawn person, when he suddenly found himself in the shelter with a frightened 
group about him, he became contaminated by the fear in the atmosphere. 
Weakened by recent unhappiness, he found himself completely unable to put up the 
inner defences that had served him so well under the frightening experiences of 
active war. 

Are we to say that he was less of a hero than the much-decorated machine-gunner? 
There still lives in all of us an admiration for bravado, for the theatrical display of 
courage, for the devil-may-care invitation to destruction. We are beginning to 
recognize now that real courage is different; it is at one and the same time an 
expression of faith in life and a resignation to death. Courage is not something that 
can be forced on a man from the outside. It has to come from inside him. 

In the reality of modern war-the impersonal Moloch-a man can be easily reduced to a 
feeling of helplessness and dependency. Personal courage can turn the tide of battle 
in a hand-to-hand encounter, but personal courage is no defense against bombs and 
machine guns. Today, reckless courage, as we have glorified it, is less important 
than personal morale, faith, conviction, knowledge, and adequate preparation. 

A boy of seventeen years of age is drafted into the army. He has spent his entire life 
in a small town in Texas. He receives training in the routine of army life and the use 
of his weapons. Soon thereafter he is sent to Korea, and almost immediately he is 
taken prisoner. Now this child has to defend himself against the propaganda barrage 
which well-trained Communist theoreticians daily hurl at him. His education is limited, 
his background narrow, his political training inadequate. He even tries to escape 
from his prison camp but is caught. As a result, the enemy's mental hold on him 
increases. His great disappointment makes him feel trapped. Finally he surrenders 
and collaborates. How can a military court hold him responsible, and even 
punishable, for the fact that he finally gave in to enemy propaganda? 

This is part of the story of Corporal Claude Bachelor, recently sentenced to twenty 
years imprisonment for collaboration with the enemy. I would venture to guess that it 
could have been the story of nearly any American boy of similar background. 

After the Second World War, several European countries had to face the difficult 
problem of how to treat those members of the underground who, after torture by the 
Nazis, had confessed and betrayed their compatriots. In Holland a Court of Honor 
was established to judge these special cases. This court reached the following 

No man can possibly vouch for it that under no circumstances will he 'confess,' 
'cooperate,' or 'betray' his country. No man who has not himself gone through the 
hell which Communists and Nazis have been so able to organize has any right to 
judge the conduct of a man who did. 


Psychological torture is more effective in many cases than physical torture. This is all 
the more true of the victim who has above average intellectual background. It seems 
that intelligence makes physical torture more easily bearable but at the same time 
exposes one more to the impact of mental torture. Anyone who 'submitted' under 
such circumstances to the enemy after having given proof of his loyalty, patriotism 
and courage will suffer terribly because his condemnation of himself will always be 
more severe than that of any judge. 

There is, however, not the slightest reason for shame, nor for considering such a 
person incapacitated for giving leadership. On the contrary, more than outsiders he 
will know what superhuman strength is required to resist the subtle methods of 
mental torture, and more than outsiders he can be helpful to others to prepare 
themselves for the ordeal as far as that is at all possible. 


The Morale-Boosting Idea 

When we look at the varieties of human behaviour under extreme and pressing 
circumstances, we see how easily man can be subdued, and at the same time we 
see that certain factors seem to have a positive effect on his morale, keeping him 
from despair and collapse. When these factors are operative, the spirit revives and 
people are enabled to live with integrity In spite of dangerous circumstances. There 
are many such morale boosters-religious faith or a political ideology are among 

Perhaps the most effective is the sense of having some mission and inner goal. This 
ideal with which a man identifies can be love of the native land, love of freedom or 
justice, or even the thought of hate and revenge. Whatever it is, at the moment of 
calamity a guiding idea is as much needed as mere physical strength and 
endurance. In every case where the individual has learned to withstand danger and 
to maintain at least some of his normal esprit under circumstances of deprivation, 
want, and brutality, one or more of the morale-boosting factors must have been 

I do not believe that the inner search for the morale-boosting regenerative idea is a 
conscious function of the mind. Such psychological regeneration is comparable with 
the physical regenerative processes we see in the body. The body hardly ever gives 
up its regenerative capacities. Even when a man is dying of cancer, his surgical 
wounds still heal, the local regenerating forces are still there. The same thing seems 
to operate on a mental level; in times of confusion, pressure, and exhaustion, man's 
psychological healing and regenerating forces are still in action. This applies as 
much to large groups of people as it does to the individual, though in the former, 
restraining forces remain in action because of intricate interpersonal relationships. 

My experiences with people living in the utmost dangerous circumstances showed 
that very soon after an initial bewilderment the individuals develop an inner need for 
what we might call mental budgeting. They all display observable clinical symptoms 
indicating that this process of regaining their self-assertive resistance is going on. 
When they first come to the prison camps, for instance, they show complete 
passivity, surrender, and depersonalization, but soon a guiding idea begins to grow 
out of their need to understand fate, their need for protective intercommunication and 
adherence to some common faith, for building something for the self. We can detect 
this favourable change in mood by the way every prisoner makes his own corner a 
place of security, even when it is only a dirty wooden bunk. He begins to rearrange 
the few things he has; he builds his own nest, and from it he begins to look out into 
his miserable marginal world. 

When the prison-camp inmate finds friends whose faith and strength of character are 
greater than his, his life becomes more bearable to him. Through mere association 
with others he can better face the horrors without. Mutual love and common hate, 
both may be equally stimulating. 


Renewed human contact changes his inherent fear into confidence in at least one 
other person. When this grows into some identity with an active, working team, the 
temporary loss of inner strength is gone. When he does not find such a group or 
personality to identify with, the prison guard and his foreign ideology may take over. 

It must be said that the stimulating morale-boosting idea is nearly always a moral 
idea, an ethical evaluation-faith in goodness, justice, freedom, peace, and future 
harmony. Even the most cynical dictator needs the help of moral ideas to raise the 
morale of those submissive to his regime. If he cannot give them at least the illusion 
of peace and freedom in addition to prospects for future wealth, he reduces them to 
dull apathetic followers. At the entrance of the Nazi concentration camps were large 
signs bearing the cynical slogan: Arbeit macht frei ("Work makes man free"). This 
may not have fooled the inmates, but it gave the German people outside the camps 
a way of justifying their inhuman behaviour. The need for moral justification, which is 
felt by even the most ruthless tyrants, proves how deeply alive these ideas of 
morality are in man. The more a man lives in marginal and torturous situations, the 
greater is his need for supportive moral values and their stimulating action. 

In general we may say that there are three influences under which the unbearable 
becomes bearable. Again, in the first place, one must have faith; this can be simple 
faith in religious or ethical values, or faith in humanity, or faith in the stability of one's 
own society, or faith in one's own goals. In the second place, the victim must feel that 
in spite of the disaster which has overtaken him and turned him into an outcast, he is 
wanted and needed somewhere on this earth. In the third place, there must be 
understanding, not sophisticated book knowledge but simple, even intuitive, 
psychological understanding of the motivations of the enemy and his deluded 
drives. Those who cannot understand and are too perplexed break down first. 

Anti-brainwashing training has to be done very thoroughly. It is true that inner 
defences can be built against thought control and against the daily barrage of 
suggestions. With the help of good and repeated instruction, people can be made 
familiar with the concepts. Perceptual defences are then built up; we learn to detect 
the false propaganda and we do not listen to it. Even though part of the 
propagandistic suggestions leak through these perceptual defences and creep 
unobtrusively into our opinions (all advertising is based on this leakage), it cannot be 
stressed enough that full knowledge of the enemy's methods gives us more strength 
to resist. 

Several psychologists have told me how, under the frightful circumstances of life in 
the Nazi concentration camps, they felt sustained by their science. It gave them 
perspective and made it possible for them to see their own suffering from a greater 
distance. It was the philosophical attitude of the inquisitive mind that fortified their 
inner strength. 

Still, there are only a few stories of those who could not be broken down by the 
process of Communist brainwashing. Such a hard-boiled revolutionary as the 
Spaniard El Campesino, for one, was able to stand it (Gonzales and Gorkin). He 
knew the tricks of the totalitarians. It is also possible that they might not have thought 
him important enough to waste too much time and effort on him; after all, he could 
always be sent to a concentration camp to waste away. 


It must be repeated that any kind of illicit group formation in the camps-no matter 
how dangerous-immediately gave the individual a sense of being protected. Most of 
those who resisted cooperation and group membership and worked on their own 
succumbed to despair and defeat. Those who betrayed their comrades, usually did 
so after they had gone through a long period of isolation, not necessarily enforced, 
but often caused by their own peculiar character structure. 

Human contact with a trusted source is needed more than bread to keep the spirit of 
freedom and belonging alive. During the Second World War the anti-Nazi 
underground lived on the daily radio news from free England. Even now there are 
people in enslavement and distress who live on the few communications we are able 
to transmit to them. The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe have a 
tremendous morale-boosting function in countries where the totalitarian air leads to 

In our present-day fight against brainwashing, intelligent preparation for what the 
prisoner has to expect and simple understanding of the enemy's tactics are the 
greatest aid. In the first place, this will undermine the enemy's political strategy; 
nobody will believe his deceitful accusations. In the second place, victims of 
brainwashing will no longer suffer from the paralyzing bewilderment of those who are 
suddenly caught by an unfamiliar situation. Perhaps, too, we should advise our 
soldiers under duress to confess too much, to confuse the inquisitor and to take over 
the enemy's strategy of confusion, lying, and deceit to bring him to frustration. This 
suggestion was also made by Rear Admiral D. V. Gallery of the United States Navy. 

In cases where victims of menticide have done this, the inquisitors have often 
begged their victims to become rational again; the torturer himself was disturbed and 
upset by the feigned craziness of his victim. Of the greatest importance is the victim's 
awareness that other people know and understand what is happening, that there is a 
home front that is acquainted with his lonely struggle and torture. 

If he does succumb, he should know that others understand that he cannot be held 
completely responsible for his behaviour. His brain wanted to resist, his mind wanted 
to say no, but in the end everything in his body acted against him. It is an eerie and 
strange experience-awareness of the fact that against one's will, one has lost the 
freedom of mental action. It is an experience which enough pressure can make 
familiar to most men: 

Are the effects of brainwashing only temporary? There is a difference between 
young people whose thoughts are still likely to be moulded into permanent patterns 
of thinking and adults whose patterns are already formed by a free education. In 
mature people, brainwashing is an artificial nightmare they can often shed the 
moment they return to free territory. In some, it may leave long-lasting scars of 
depression and humiliation, but gradually the spell subsides in an atmosphere where 
freedom reigns. 

During and directly after the Second World War, those members of the resistance 
who had lost their bearings under the influence of the Nazi terror made it necessary 
for psychiatrists to face a new problem, that of a temporarily changed personality. 


Obviously the terror in prisons and concentration camps had not only made meek 
collaborators of a certain few, but they came out of their ordeal as lost souls, full of 
guilt and remorse and unable to face themselves as valid citizens. Even the 
honourable official exoneration of responsibility granted to them by a special court 
was not always able to repair their self-esteem. Before accepting themselves they 
had to go through a slow and difficult psychological process of undoing the 
nightmarish mental confusion into which they were thrown. 

During psychotherapy several of them had to recall and experience once more the 
terror they had suffered: their initial struggle to resist the mental dinning of their 
inquisitors, the gradual paralysis of will, their final surrender. It was a subtle inner 
battle between their feelings of guilt and the wish to reassert themselves. Emotional 
outbursts were followed by thoughts of suicide as a final flight from their shame. After 
they had vented their pent-up emotions, the therapist was able to convince them that 
everybody has his physical and psychological limits of endurance. From this point 
on, they could express themselves freely as independent human beings with a 
mixture of both negative and positive qualities. 

In one case of a young man who had spent years in a concentration camp after a 
thorough brainwashing by the Nazis, the process of rehabilitation lasted nearly two 
years. The victim emerged from it without mental scars, and was even strengthened 
by his bitter experience. 

I am convinced that in the case of prisoners who were for years in a totalitarian 
prison and were consequently politically conditioned, a cathartic, psychotherapeutic 
approach will help them to find their old inner selves once more. Threats and 
aggressive discussions would only be a continuation of the same coercive 
brainwashing process their jailors used. The best therapy for them is the daily 
contact and exchange with the free, democratic world, as we have seen proven in so 
many cases of ex-prisoners of the totalitarian machine. Free air is for them the best 

For the millions of children who from the cradle are pressed into the framework of 
mental automatization, no such option for freedom exists. For them there is no other 
world, there are no other beliefs; there is only the all-consuming totalitarian Moloch, 
in whose service every means and every deed is justified. 

Brainwashers are very naive in thinking that the enforced reformation of the mind-the 
transformation of capitalist prisoners into Communist propagandists-will be 
permanent. For the first few weeks after their return to a normal environment, the ex- 
prisoner will speak the language he has been "taught." He will recite his piece, but 
then, and often suddenly and surprisingly, his old self comes back. If the victim has a 
chance to investigate and examine the Communist propaganda and accusations, the 
whole artificial nightmare will fall away. For this reason, the jailers are careful not to 
dismiss all their converts at once. A few must stay behind as hostages to assure that 
those who are released will not expose the whole plot and thus endanger their 
friends in jail. Those who do tell the truth on their return home feel guilty because 
their revelations may expose the hostages to even greater torture. 


I have been fascinated by a peculiar character trait that makes for courage and 
endurance. I called it in my study on the problem of time the sense of continuity, the 
awareness that our experiences now are not only chained to our experiences from 
the past, but also to our image and fantasy of a future. We live in a world where we 
accept too much of the actual occurrences, without asking why and for what all this 
happens. Those who think of planning for the future are sneeringly called utopianists, 
as if the idea of Utopia had not always sprung from human yearning. Our ancestors 
believed in the future, the coming of Christ, the coming of the messiahs, the 
Kingdom of God. They anticipated and worked for a better epoch. The people in the 
concentration camps who believed in a future, who believed in a plan, who could see 
their actual calamity as a small chain between past and future, could endure better 
their temporary suffering. 

I had the privilege of knowing people who belonged to the few kernels of strength 
and who were able to do more than exist passively and borrow strength from others. 
They were able to live courageously under the extreme stress of the Nazi 
concentration camp. They accepted the camp and the persecution as a challenge 
to their minds. Physical pain did not touch them. The abnormal circumstances 
stimulated their spirit; they lived beyond the circumstances. The morale of these 
people inspired others; they lived by fortifying and helping others. They accepted the 
Spinozistic amor fati, the love and acceptance of fate. They are a living proof that the 
mind can be stronger than the body. 


The New Courage 

Philosophy and psychology have made us aware of new challenges and new 
courage. Socrates, over two thousand years ago, considered bravery a spiritual 
courage which goes far beyond the courage of physical battle. A soldier can be 
aggressive and have contempt for death without being brave. His rashness can be a 
suicidal foolhardiness inspired by a collective elan. This may be the panicky courage 
of the unaware primitive infant in us. 

There is also a spiritual bravery, a mental courage that goes beyond the self. It 
serves an idea. It asks not only what the price of life is, but also for what that price is 
being asked. It asks for a hyperconsciousness of the self as a thinking spiritual 

It is only comparatively recently that spiritual courage has been esteemed. Socrates' 
notion has taken a long time to seep into our thinking. It was only after the 
Reformation that the heroic struggle of the lonely battling personality gained value. 
To defend your own dissenting opinion courageously, even against the pressure of a 
majority opinion, acquired a heroic color-especially where non-conformism and 
heresy were forbidden. Gandhi's quiet and stubborn campaign of passive resistance 
is today considered more courageous than the bravery of the soldier who throws 
himself into the ecstasy of battle. Spiritual bravery is not found among the 
conformists or among those who preach uniformity or among those who plead for 
smooth social adjustment. It requires continual mental alertness and spiritual 
strength to resist the dragging current of conformist thought. Man has to be stronger 
than the mere will for self-protection and self-assertion; he has to be able to go 
beyond himself in the service of an idea and has to be able to acknowledge loyally 
that he has been wrong when higher values are found. Indeed, there is a spiritual 
courage that goes beyond all automatic reflex action. 

Man is not only a mass, a piece of kneaded dough; he is also a personality. He 
dares to confront the human masses as he confronts the entire world-as a thinking 
human being. Consciousness, alert awareness are themselves a form of courage, a 
lonely exploration and a confrontation of values. Such courage dares to break 
through old traditions, taboos, prejudices and dares to doubt dogma. The heroes of 
the mind do not know the fanfare, the pathetic show, the pseudo-courage of 
exaltation and glory; these brave heroes fight their inner battle against rigidity, 
cowardice, and the wish to surrender conviction for the sake of ease. This courage is 
like remaining awake when others want to soothe themselves with sleep and 
oblivion. Totalitarian ideology is able to blackmail man through his inner cowardice. It 
threatens him into surrendering his innermost convictions in exchange for glamour 
and acceptance, for hero worship, for honor and acknowledgment. Yet the true hero 
is true to his ideals. 

Only when people have learned to accept individual responsibility can the world be 
helped by the combined efforts of many individuals. Don't imitate the master, don't 
merely identify with the leader, but if you do conform, accept his lead with the full 
recognition of your own responsibility. Such heroism of the spirit is only possible if 
you are the master of your emotions and in full control of your aggressions. 


The new hero will not be recognized because of his muscles or aggressive power, 
but because of his character, his wisdom, and his mental proportions. 

Intimate knowledge of bravery dethrones most of the popular notions about it as an 
exalted fascination. Psychological knowledge fosters new forms of courage, 
demanding exhausting labour, the labour of thought rather than the easy work of 

I cannot take any other option than for this enduring courage of life, courage that no 
longer embodies the magic attraction of suicide and decline. Courage should be the 
vivid faith in, and the alert awareness and the sound consideration of, all that moves 

Such courage accepts the great fear behind all the mysteries of life and dares to live 
with it. 

The Nazis were very much aware of the existence of unbendable heroes among 
their victims, whose faces could not be changed, whose minds could not be coerced. 
They called their calmness and stubborn will physiognomic insubordination, and they 
tried to kill these heroes as soon as they were discovered. Happily, the jailers had 
many blind spots when it came to detecting spiritual greatness. 

When the war was over, most of these heroes disappeared modestly into the crowd 
after their mission was fulfilled, leaving leadership to the more s sophisticated 



The totalitarian state is continually driving out man's private opinions and convictions. 
For the police state, thinking is already acting. The inner preparation for action as 
expressed in trial action -thought-is not accepted. Innate doubt and the trials and 
tribulations of thought adaptation are denied. Inbreeding destructive thought is one 
way to undermine the community. Not trusting the liberty of thought and free 
expression of opinion is even more dangerous; the natural destructive desires are 
repressed to that uncontrollable realm of the mind that may explode more easily into 
action. The verbal expression of a destructive thought however often partly conquers 
that thought, and renders it less potent. Here lies the actual paradox! Condemning 
antisocial thought-thought not yet put into action-provokes a short circuit of explosive 

Every piece of logic may have its dangerous implications: inquisitional murder took 
place in the service of high ideals. If we cannot gamble with the innate good sense of 
man, a free and peaceful society are impossible, a democracy is impossible. Moral 
culture begins and ends with the individual. Only the cult of individual freedom, 
individual possession, and individual creativity makes man willing to curb instinctual 
desires and to repress destructivity. Man is not only a social being. Somewhere 
away from the crowd and the noise, he has to come to grips with himself, God and 
nature. In order to grow, he needs reserve and isolation and silence. In addition to 
his mechanical devices and machines, he needs to get back to nature, to camp out- 
of-doors by himself. Somewhere along the line, he has to be the maker of some of 
his own tools, as a shoemaker or a healer or a teacher. Without being thrown on his 
own and knowing loneliness, man is dwarfed, he is lost among the waves of 
overpowering human influence and a sea of coercive probabilities. 


The Democratizing Action of Psychology 

The deepest conviction of the power of psychological understanding came to me in 
my protracted mental struggles with a man who held membership in a totalitarian 
organization. He came to me for psychological advice during the Nazi occupation of 
Holland, and I knew that I had to be careful to avoid discussing politics with him; in 
those days free expression of opinion could be severely punished, and my patient 
would have reported me if I had said anything "suspicious." 

However, as my therapy of passive listening liberated him from his personal 
tensions, the patient became more humane. He developed an increasing respect for 
the individual personality as such, and sometimes grew very critical of the Nazis' 
callous treatment of human life and human dignity. As time passed, he dissociated 
himself more and more from his totalitarian political friends. This was indeed 
courageous, for, especially at that time, the turn from collaboration toward non- 
conformism was usually interpreted as high treason. In his last visits before we 
agreed that he was cured, we spoke of our mutual faith in the dignity of the individual 
and our confidence in the decisions of the mature adult as to the path of his own 

Does psychology really exert a democratizing influence on the authoritarian and 
totalitarian spirit? The case I have just cited would seem to indicate that it does. On 
the other hand, we know that Goebbels's propaganda machine applied psychological 
principles to hypnotize the German people into submission. Hitler, too, laid down his 
psychological artillery barrage to spread panic throughout Europe. 

In Nazi Germany, all psychoanalytic treatment was controlled by psychology's own 
Fuhrer, Goering's brother. Certainly the science of suggestion, hypnosis, and 
Pavlovian training can be used to enlist cowardly, submissive followers for a program 
of despotism. These uses of psychological knowledge are perversions of both the 
principles and the purposes of psychology. Intrinsic in the psychological approach, 
and above all in psychoanalytic treatment, is an important element that fosters an 
attitude diametrically opposite to the totalitarian one. 

The true purpose of psychology, and especially of its mental health branch, is to free 
man from his internal tensions by helping him to understand what causes them. 
Psychology seeks to liberate the human spirit from its dependency on immature 
thinking so that each man can realize his own potentialities. It seeks to help man to 
face reality with its many problems, and to recognize his own limitations as well as 
his possibilities for growth. It is dedicated to the development of mature individuals 
who are capable of living in freedom and of voluntarily restricting their freedom, when 
it is indicated, for the larger good. It is based on the premise that when man 
understands himself, he can begin to be the master of his own life, rather than 
merely the puppet either of his own unconscious drives or of a tyrant with a 
perverted lust for power. 


As we have said earlier, every man passes through a stage in his own development 
of greater susceptibility to totalitarianism. This usually occurs during adolescence 
when the pubescent becomes aware of his own personality-the authority within 
himself. In not accepting this responsibility, he may look for a strong leader outside 
the home. At an earlier age-in infancy-the more unconscious patterns of compulsion 
and automatic obedience are laid. With the advent of his new sense of selfhood, the 
youth begins to oppose the adult authorities who previously directed his life. 

Becoming conscious of the entity we call ego or self or I is a painful mental process. 
It is not a matter of chance that the feeling of endless longing, of Weltschmerz, is 
traditionally connected with adolescence. The process of becoming an autonomous 
and self growing individual involves separation from the security of the family. To 
achieve internal democracy, the adolescent must separate himself from his 
protective environment. In so doing he is not merely intoxicated with his sense of 
growth and emancipation, he is also filled with a sense of fear and loneliness. He is 
entering a new world in which he must henceforth assume mature responsibility for 
his actions. At that time he may become an easy prey for totalitarian propaganda. A 
personal grudge against growing up may lead him to forsake the struggle for 
personal maturity. 

This problem is particularly acute in Western society not only because of the real 
ideological-political battle we have to face, but also because our ways of raising 
children may emphasize this problem. Whereas primitive groups impose some 
measure of social responsibility upon the child early in life and increase it gradually, 
our middle-class culture segregates him completely in the world of childhood, 
nursery, and schoolroom, and then plunges him precipitously into adulthood to sink 
or swim. At this turning point, many young people shrink from such a test. Many do 
not want a freedom that carries with it so many burdens, so much loneliness. They 
are willing to hand back their freedom in return for continued parental protection, or 
to surrender it to political or economic ideologies which are in fact displaced parental 

Alas, the youth's surrender of individuality is no guarantee against fear and 
loneliness. The real outside world is in no way altered by his inner choice. Therefore 
the youth who relinquishes his freedom to new parent figures develops a curious, 
dual feeling of love and hate toward all authority. Docility and rebellion, submission 
and hate live side by side within him. Sometimes he bows completely to authority or 
tyranny; at other times, often unpredictably, everything in him revolts against his 
chosen leader. This duality is an endless one, for one side of his nature continually 
seeks to overstep the limits which his other, submissive side has imposed. The man 
who fails to achieve freedom knows only two extremes: unquestioning submission 
and impulsive rebellion. 

Conversely, the individual who is strong enough to embrace mature adulthood enters 
into a new kind of freedom. True, this freedom is an ambiguous concept since it 
involves the responsibility of making new decisions and confronting new 
uncertainties. The frontiers of freedom are anarchy and caprice on the one side and 
regimentation and suffocation by rules on the other. 


If only we could find an easy formula for the mature attitude toward life! Even if we 
call it the democratic spirit, we can still explain more easily what democracy is not, 
than what it is. We can say that our individualizing democracy is the enemy of blind 
authority. If we wish a more detailed, psychological explanation, we must contrast it 
with totalitarianism. 

Our democracy is against the total regimentation and equalization of its individuals. It 
does not ask for homogeneous integration and smooth social adjustment. 
Democracy, in comparison with these aims, implies a confidence in spontaneity and 
individual growth. It is able to postulate progress and the correction of evil. It guards 
the community against human error without resorting to intimidation. Democracy 
provides redress for its own errors; totalitarianism considers itself infallible. Whereas 
totalitarianism controls by whim and manipulated public opinion, democracy 
undertakes to regulate society by law, to respect human nature, and to guard its 
citizens against the tyranny of a single individual on the one hand and a power-crazy 
majority on the other. Democracy always fights a dual battle. On the one hand, it 
must limit the resurgence of asocial inner impulses in the individual; on the other, it 
must guard the individual against external forces and ideologies hostile to the 
democratic way of life. 


The Battle on Two Fronts 

The inner harmony between social adaptation and self-assertion has to be re-formed 
in every new environment. Each individual has to fight over and over again the same 
subtle battle that started during infancy and babyhood. The ego, the self, forms itself 
through confrontation with reality. Compliance battles with originality, dependence 
with independence, outer discipline with inner morale. No culture can escape this 
inner human battle, though there is a difference in emphasis in every culture and 
society and in every family. 

The combination of internal and external struggle, of a mental conflict on two fronts, 
renders the Western ideal of an individualized democracy highly vulnerable, 
particularly when its adherents are unaware of this inherent contradiction. 
Democracy, by its very nature will always have to fight against dictatorship from 
without and destructiveness from within. Democratic freedom has to battle against 
both the individual's inner will to power and his urge to submit to other people. It also 
has to battle against the contagious drive for power intruding from over the frontiers 
and so often backed up by armies. 

The freedom toward which democracy strives is not the romantic freedom of 
adolescent dreams; it is one of mature stature. Democracy insists on sacrifices 
which are necessary to maintain freedom. It tries to combat the fears that attack men 
when they are faced with democracy's apparently unlimited freedom. Such lack of 
limitations can be misused to satisfy mere instinctual drives. However, because 
democracy does not exploit man by myth, primitive magic, mass hypnotism, or other 
psychological means of seduction, it is less fascinating to the immature individual 
than is dictatorial control. 

Democracy, when it is not involved in a dramatic struggle for survival, may appear 
quite drab and uninspiring. It simply demands that men shall think and judge for 
themselves; that each individual shall exercise his full conscious ability in adapting to 
a changing world; and that genuine public opinion shall mould the laws that govern 
the community. Essentially, democracy means the right to develop yourself and not 
to be developed by others. Yet this right like every other, has to be balanced by a 
duty. The right to develop yourself is impossible without the duty of giving your 
energy and attention to the development of others. Democracy is rooted not only in 
the personal rights of the common man, but even more in the personal interests and 
responsibilities of the common man. When he loses this interest in politics and 
government, he helps to pave the road to power politics. Democracy demands 
mental activity of a rather high level from the common man. 

What the general public digests and assimilates in its mind is, in our new era of mass 
communication, just as important as the dictates of the experts. If the latter formulate 
and communicate ideas beyond the common grasp, they will talk into a vacuum. 
Thus they may permit a more simple and even an untrue ideology to slip in. It is not 
enough that an idea is only formulated and printed; we have to take care that the 
public can participate in the new concept. 


The mystery of freedom is the existence of that great love of freedom! Those who 
have tasted it will not waver. Man revolts against unfair pressure. While the pressure 
accumulates he revolts silently, but at some critical moment it bursts into open revolt. 
For those who have lived through such an outburst, freedom is life itself. We have 
learned this especially in the days of persecution and occupation, in the 
underground, in the camps, and under the threat of demagoguery. We can even 
discover it in the totalitarian countries where nonetheless the terror, the resistance 
goes on. 

Freedom and respect for the individual are rooted in the Old Testament, which 
convinced man that he makes his own history, that he is responsible for his history. 
Such freedom implies that a man throws off his inertia, that he does not cling 
arbitrarily to tradition, that he strives for knowledge and accepts moral responsibility. 
The fear of freedom is the fear of assuming responsibility. 

Freedom can never be completely safeguarded by rules and laws. It is as much 
dependent on the courage, integrity, and responsibility of each of us as it is on these 
qualities in those who govern. Every trait in us and our leaders which points to 
passive submission to mere power betrays democratic freedom. In our American 
system of democratic government, three different powerful branches serve to check 
each other, the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. Yet when there is no will 
to prevent encroachment of the power of one by any of the others, this system of 
checks, too, can degenerate. 

Like adolescents who try to hide behind the aprons of parental authority rather than 
face mature adulthood, the individual members of a democratic state may shrink 
from the mental activity it imposes. They long to take flight into a condition of 
thoughtless security. Often they would prefer the government, or some individual 
personification of the state, to solve their problems for them. It is this desire that 
makes totalitarians and conformists. Like an infant the conformist can sleep quietly 
and transfer all his worries to Father State. When the intellectuals lose their self- 
control and courage and are possessed only by their fears and emotions, the power 
of those with prejudice and stupidity gains. 

Since within each of us lie the seeds of both democracy and totalitarianism, the 
struggle between the democratic and the totalitarian attitude is fought repeatedly by 
each individual during his lifetime. His particular view of himself and of his fellow men 
will determine his political creed. Coexisting with man's wish for liberty and maturity 
are destructiveness, hate, the desire for power, resistance to independence, and the 
wish to retreat into irresponsible childhood. Democracy appeals only to the adult side 
of man; fascism and totalitarianism tempt his infantile desires. 

Totalitarianism is based on a mechanized narrow view of mankind. It denies the 
complexity of the individual, and the struggle between his conscious and 
unconscious motivations. It denies doubt, ambivalence, and contradiction of feelings. 
It simplifies man, making him into a machine that can be put to work by 
governmental oil. 


In every psychoanalytic treatment there comes the moment when the patient has to 
decide whether or not he will grow up. The knowledge and insight he has gained 
have to be translated into action. By this time he knows more about himself; his life 
has become an open book to him. Although he understands himself better, he finds it 
difficult to leave the dreamland of childhood, with its fantasies, hero-worship, and 
happy endings. But, fortified with a deeper understanding of his inner motivation, he 
steps over into the world of self-chosen responsibility and limited freedom. Because 
his image of the world is no longer distorted by immature longings, he is now able to 
function in it as a mature adult. 

Systematic education toward freedom is possible. Freedom grows as the control 
over destructive inner drives become internalized and no longer depend on control 
from the outside, on control by parents and authorities. 

It is the building up of our personality and our conscience-ego and superego-that is 
important. Nor can this development be brought about in an enforced and 
compulsive way as tyrants and dictators try to do. We must develop it through free 
acceptance or rejection of existing moral values until the inner moral person in us is 
so strong that he is able to go beyond existing values and can stand on his own 
moral grounds. The choice in favour of freedom lies between self-chosen limitation- 
the liberation from chaos-and the pseudo-freedom of unconscious chaos. To many 
people freedom is an emotional concept of letting themselves go, which really means 
a dictatorship by dark, instinctual drives. There is also an intellectual concept of 
freedom, meaning a limiting of bondage and unfreedom. 

In order to become free, certain outside conditions must be prevented from 
hampering this moral development of self-control. We have to become increasingly 
aware of the internal dangers of democracy: laxity, laziness, and unawareness. 
People have to be aware of the tendency of technology to automatize their minds. 
They have to become aware of the fact that mass media and modern communication 
are able to imprint all kinds of suggestions on our brains. They have to know that 
education can turn us either into weak fact-factories or strong personalities. A free 
democracy has to fight against mediocrity in order not to be smothered by mere 
numbers of automatic votes. Democratic freedom requires a highly intelligent 
appraisal and understanding of the democratic system itself. This very fact makes it 
difficult for us to advertise or "promote" it. Furthermore, inculcating democracy is just 
as dangerous as inculcating totalitarianism. It is the essence of democracy that it 
must be self-chosen, it cannot be imposed. 


The Paradox of Freedom 

Freedom and planning present no essential contrasts. In order to let freedom grow, 
we have to plan our controls over the forces that limit freedom. Beyond this, we must 
have the passion and the inner freedom to prosecute those who abuse freedom. We 
must have the vitality to attack those who commit mental suicide and psychic murder 
through abuse of liberties, dragging down other persons in their wake. Suicidal 
submission is a kind of subversion from within; it is passive surrender to a 
mechanized world without personalities; it is the denial of personality. We must have 
the fervour to stand firmly for freedom of the individual, for mutual tolerance and 
dignity, and we must learn not to tolerate the destruction of these values. We must 
not tolerate those who make use of worthy ideas and values only to destroy them as 
soon as they are in power. We must be intolerant of these abuses as long as the 
battle for mental life or death goes on. 

It cannot be emphasized too strongly that liberty is only possible with a strong set of 
beliefs and moral standards. This means that man has to adhere to self-restrictive 
rules-moral rules-in order to keep his freedom. When there is lack of such internal 
checks, owing to lack of education or to stereotyped education, then external 
pressure or even tyranny becomes necessary to check unsocial drives. Then 
freedom becomes the victim of man's inability to live in freedom and self-control. 
Mankind should be guaranteed the right not to hear and not to conform and the right 
to defense against psychological attack and against intervention in the form of 
perverted mass propaganda, totalitarian pressure, and mental torture. 

No compromise or appeasement is possible in dealing with such attitudes. We have 
to watch carefully lest our own mistakes in attacking personal freedom become grist 
for the totalitarian's mill. Even our denunciation may have a paradoxical effect. Fear 
and hysteria further totalitarianism. What we need is careful analysis and 
understanding of such phenomena. Democracy is the regime of the dignity of man 
and his right to think for himself, the right to have his own opinion more than that, the 
right to assert his own opinion and to protect himself against mental invasion and 

When the United Nations has devised rules curtailing menticide and psychological 
intrusion, it will have insured a human right as precious as physical existence, the 
right of the nonconforming free individual-the right to dissent, the right to be oneself. 
Tolerance of criticism and heresy is one of the conditions of freedom. 

Here we touch on another crucial point related to the technique of governing people. 
There is a relationship between over centralization of government, mass 
participation, and totalitarianism. 

Mass participation in government, without the decentralization that emphasizes the 
value of variation and individuality and without the possibility of sound selection of 
leaders, facilitates the creation of the dictatorial leader. The masses then transfer 
their desire for power to him. The slave participates in a magic way in the glory of the 


Democratic self-government is determined by restraint and self limitations, by 
sportsmanship and fairness, by voluntary observance of the rules of society and by 
cooperation. These qualities come through training. In a democratic government 
those who have been elected to responsible positions request controls and 
limitations against themselves, knowing that no one is without fault. Democracy is 
not a fight for independence but a mutually regulated interdependence. Democracy 
means checking man's tendency to gather unlimited power unto himself. It means 
checking the faults in each of us. It minimizes the consequences of man's limitations. 


The Future Age of Psychology 

Let me repeat what I said at the very beginning of this book. The modern techniques 
of brainwashing and menticide-those perversions of psychology-can bring almost 
any man into submission and surrender. Many of the victims of thought control, 
brainwashing, and menticide that we have talked about were strong men whose 
minds and wills were broken and degraded. But although the totalitarians use their 
knowledge of the mind for vicious and unscrupulous purposes, our democratic 
society can and must use its knowledge to help man to grow, to guard his freedom, 
and to understand himself. 

Psychological knowledge and psychological treatment may in themselves generate 
the democratic attitude; for psychology is essentially the science of the just milieu, of 
free choice within the framework of man's personal and social limitations. Compared 
with the million-year span of human existence and evolution, civilization is still in its 
infancy. Despite historical reversals, man continues to grow, and psychology-no 
matter how imperfect now-will become one of man's most powerful tools in his 
struggle for freedom and maturity. 



"Admissibility of Results of Lie-Detector and Truth Serum Tests" (Oklahoma Court), 
Journal of American Medical Association, Vol. 133, i951. 

Ahrendt, H., The Origin of Totalitarianism. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1950. 

Almond, G. A., and others, The Appeals of Communism. Princeton, Princeton 
University Press, I954. 

Asch, S. E., "Opinions and Social Pressure," Scientific American, V01 . 193, 1955. 

Ashby, W. R., Design for a Brain. New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1952. 

Aspaturian, V., "What Do the Communists Mean by 'Peaceful Coexistence'?" The 
Reporter, 1955. 

"Automation Is Here," Democratic Digest, 1955. 

Baschwitz, K., Du Und Die Masse. Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1937. Bauer, R. A. 

The New Man in Soviet Psychology. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1952. 

Beck, F., and Godin, W., Russian Purge and the Extraction of Confession. New 
York, Viking Press, Inc., 1950. 

Beer, M., "The Battle for Man's Rights," United Nations World, z950. 

Bergler, E., The Battle o f the Conscience. Washington, D. O, Washington Institute 
of Medicine, 1948. 

The Superego-Unconscious Conscience. New York, Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1952.